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Pregnancy Discrimination Against Financial Professionals

California Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers

While many industries claim to support a better work-life balance for their employees, for many industries, it is just lip service.  A case in point, the financial services industry is notoriously pressure packed. Firms often expect their employees to work extremely long hours – stories in recent years have leaked out of major firms about employees working 95 hours a week and losing unhealthy amounts of weight because they didn’t have time to eat properly. Leaders of pressure-cooker companies often do not look kindly on employees who take time off or dare to say something about being overworked.

For women, a pressure-cooker environment can be even more oppressive than it is for men, particularly when a woman becomes pregnant. Pregnancy brings with it Medical appointments, which means time away from work, and stresses on the body which means getting up and out of your chair, an interruption of an employee’s ability to stay glued to a computer screen. Some pregnancies come with complications that can make it difficult or even impossible for a woman to work,  The culture of relentless work can put pregnant women at risk of losing their jobs if colleagues or company leaders interpret these necessities as a lack of commitment.  And even though maternity leave is a legally protected right, pressure-cooker industries often discourage women from taking time off to be with their newborns. 

Pregnancy Discrimination is Illegal Under Federal and State Law

Both federal and state law prohibit discrimination against women based on pregnancy and require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. These laws unfortunately do not always stop companies from discriminating against pregnant women. Our California lawyers have successfully represented numerous women in employment litigation stemming from pregnancy discrimination.

Federal Law: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against women based on pregnancy, childbirth or pregnancy-related medical conditions. The following are just a few examples of employer behavior that could qualify as discrimination under the Act:

  • Refusing to hire a woman because of a pregnancy-related condition even though she is able to perform the major functions of her job;
  • Denying a pregnant employee equal pay, fringe benefits, or promotions;
  • Refusing to grant a pregnant employee temporary disability leave if other employees are given the same right; and,
  • Refusing to hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence for the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on disability or sick leave.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also requires employers to provide pregnant employees with the same types of accommodations that are given to temporarily disabled employees. This includes allowing the pregnant employee to:

  • Take on lighter duties or modified tasks
  • Take alternative assignments
  • Use disability leave
  • Use unpaid leave

Federal Law: The Family and Medical Leave Act

Once a child is born, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide the mother with 12 weeks of leave, during which time her job is protected, securing her right to return to the same position after leave is over. FMLA leave can also be used before the birth to cover time off for prenatal care or if the woman is unable to work during pregnancy.

Women working in the private sector are covered by the FMLA if:

  • The employer has 50 or more employees;
  • She has worked at the employer for a year or more;
  • She worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the prior year; and
  • She works at a location where the employer has at least 50 workers within 75 miles.

State Law: California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

The FEHA prohibits pregnancy discrimination in employment and housing, but unlike federal law, it applies to all employers who have five or more employees. And, the FEHA differs from the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act in one other very important way: the FEHA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees even if the employer does not offer such accommodations to disabled employees.

State Law: California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

The CFRA requires employers who employ five or more people to provide up to four months of unpaid leave to employees who cannot work due to pregnancy. If an employee qualifies for leave under both the FMLA and CFRA, then she can take the four months under the CFRA and then take 12 weeks under the FMLA.

Our Firm Represents Financial Professionals Who Were Victims of Pregnancy Discrimination

The attorneys at Girard Bengali, APC, are dedicated to equality in the workplace and are always ready to help women pursue discrimination claims against financial firms and other companies that treat them unlawfully. Call 866-778-6821 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation at any of our three California office.

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