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California restaurant worker wins discrimination claim

Pregnancy can be an exciting time. However, that excitement can be diminished significantly if your employer uses your pregnancy as an excuse to discriminate, make your life miserable and force you out of your job.

Unfortunately, many women in the service industry face pregnancy discrimination. Often, they're in low-paid positions and without many resources. Therefore, they simply move on -- instead of fighting back.

That may be what one Southern California restaurant was counting on when one of their servers told the owner that she was pregnant. The woman says she was informed that she "should stay home since she was pregnant, (and) that her pregnancy had caused coverage problems." The owner also intimated that they really didn't want her to return from her pregnancy leave and would adjust her hours and pay so that she didn't.

Ultimately, the woman was let go from her position. The owner hired less-experienced people in her place.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rightfully declared that to be a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. In the end, the Encinitas restaurant agreed to pay the former server $18,800 to settle the claim without a trial and has agreed to revise its policies to prevent similar problems in the future.

Pregnancy discrimination often takes the form of complaints -- by owners, managers and co-workers alike -- that the pregnant employee is causing problems with the schedule, inconveniencing the rest of the staff or just using the pregnancy as an excuse to goof off.

None of that is fair. If you have been victimized by this kind of discrimination, don't let your employer get away with it. You have legal rights that can be enforced.

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