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What rights do pregnant employees have in California?

Companies are notoriously hesitant to hire employees who are – or who are likely to become – pregnant.

Although they won’t admit it, some businesses fear that it will cost them too much money to pay for maternity leave and pregnancy-related health care costs. Other businesses worry about investing time in training an employee who may soon choose to quit the workforce altogether to raise her children.

Still other companies retaliate against new mothers who take their lawful leave by wrongfully terminating them, demoting them or harassing them.

Here’s The Good News: You Can Take Action

The good news is that as a new or expecting mother, you do have rights under state and federal law. And if a current or prospective employer violates your rights, you can take legal action.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) give you the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from your job. During this time, your employer is required to hold your position for you. Likewise, the California Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you from discrimination and unfair treatment in the workplace.

Of course, you have to meet certain criteria for these laws to apply. For instance, you have to have worked for at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months to qualify under the CFRA.

Remember, The Law Is On Your Side

The important thing to remember is that the laws are designed to protect you, so if you have any questions about your rights as a new or expecting mother in California, don’t hesitate to talk with a lawyer skilled in this niche area of employment law. An experienced attorney can help you understand your full range of rights and diligently protect them.

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