Employees in California are protected from discrimination because of pregnancy under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Employers in California are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex – this includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or a related medical condition.
This means that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because of pregnancy. An employer cannot refuse to hire or promote an employee because the employee is pregnant (or because the employer is concerned that the employee might become pregnant in the future). Similarly, an employer cannot terminate an employee because that employee is pregnant or might become pregnant. “Because of” does not mean that pregnancy is the only reason that an employer took an adverse action against an employee. Rather, it means it is unlawful for pregnancy to be a substantial motivating factor (or a reason) that contributed to an employer’s decision to take adverse action.
Examples of pregnancy discrimination include:
Employers in California are required to accommodate employees who need an accommodation due to a pregnancy related disability where that individual’s health care provider has advised that a reasonable accommodation is medically advisable. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
In California, employers are required to provide breaks to employees when they need to express breastmilk, and they must provide a private lactation location (other than a restroom) that is close to the employee’s work area. The area must be clean and free of hazardous materials. It must also have a place for the employee to sit, and a surface for the employee to place a breast pump and personal belongings and have access to electricity. Additionally, employers must provide a sink with running water, and a refrigerator that is suitable for storing breastmilk.