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New California rules on pregnancy and employment discrimination

When it comes to employment laws designed to protect employees from workplace discrimination, California has some of the strongest laws in the country and they just got a little stronger. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has tweaked some of the rules that protect pregnant employees and other workers against discrimination related to pregnancy, or a perceived pregnancy.

The new regulations took effect December 30th last year after they were approved by the California Office of Administrative Law one month prior. One of the changes involves extending the existing rules that protect pregnant women against employment discrimination to include any discriminatory acts that could be based on an employer's perception an employee may be pregnant. In other words, if an employer suspects an employee may be pregnant or intends to get pregnant, that employee is still protected under pregnancy discrimination laws.

California employers are also now prohibited from taking pregnancy or perceived pregnancy into account when moving an employee into a new position if the employee objects to the transfer. The new regulations also prohibit employers from requiring an employee to take a leave of absence based on a pregnancy or the perception of a pregnancy.

Lastly, the changes also included converting the 4-month pregnancy disability leave to a period of time expressed by the number of hours an employee normally works over a four-month period. A full-time employee working 40 hours per week would receive 700 hours of pregnancy-related disability leave. And now women can take pregnancy leave by reducing the actual number of hours they work instead of being required to take it all at once.

Pregnancy discrimination is much more common than many people think. It can be subtle or extremely blatant but there are state and federal laws that protect employees, including the Family Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act. If you think you may have been the victim of employment discrimination, consult with an employment law attorney who will advise you of your rights and the steps you can take to protect those rights.

Source: Life Health PRO, "California changes pregnancy leave rules," Allison Bell, Jan. 7, 2013

Our California law firm helps employees with a wide range of employment law matters, including FMLA and CFRA issues and pregnancy discrimination similar to those discussed in the above post.

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