In California, many expecting mothers experience discrimination at their jobs based on their pregnancy status or medical conditions related to their pregnancies. Pregnant workers are protected in all of the various aspects of employment, including hiring, promotions, pay, training opportunities, layoffs and terminations. Despite the prohibition against pregnancy discrimination under state and federal law, it continues to be a pervasive problem in many workplaces.

Problems of pregnancy discrimination are far-reaching

A study that was conducted by researchers at Baylor University surveyed 252 pregnant workers. The researchers evaluated the participants’ perceptions of discrimination, their feelings of stress, the incidence of postpartum depression and the workers’ demographics. The researchers found that pregnancy discrimination negatively impacted both pregnant mothers and their infants. Women who experienced pregnancy discrimination were much likelier to experience postpartum depression. Their babies were likelier to have lower birth weights and gestational ages, and the mothers had fewer doctors’ visits during their pregnancies.

Steps for pregnant workers

Pregnant women have the right to request reasonable accommodations from their employers for conditions related to their pregnancies. Employers must provide accommodations to pregnant workers that do not present an undue financial hardship in a similar manner that they provide for other workers experiencing temporarily disabling conditions. Unfortunately, many employers fail to provide the requested accommodations. Pregnant workers should review their company’s policies about pregnancy discrimination.

Workers who believe that their employers have engaged in discriminatory acts based on their pregnancy or related medical conditions may want to talk to experienced discrimination and employment law attorneys. An attorney might review what happened and provide an honest assessment of the merits of a claim. If an attorney agrees to accept representation, he or she may litigate on their client’s behalf to recover damages for the losses that their client has suffered because of the actions of their employer.