Pregnancy Discrimination

California law provides important protections for employees and job applicants who are either pregnant or are new mothers.

If you are pregnant, have a pregnancy-related medical condition, or are recovering from childbirth, you are protected by California and federal anti-discrimination laws. 

California law protects employees against discrimination or harassment because of an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth or any related medical condition.  California law also prohibits employers from denying or interfering with an employee’s pregnancy-related employment rights.


Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employee or job applicant receives less favorable treatment because they are pregnant or may someday become pregnant.  To establish a claim for pregnancy discrimination, an employee must prove that:

  • The employer is covered by the pregnancy discrimination laws (in California, this usually means that at least five employees work for the employer);
  • That the employee either worked for the employer or that the employee applied  to work for the employer;
  • That the employer discharged or refused to hire or took some other adverse action against the employee or the employee had to leave because the circumstances were so unbearable;
  • That the pregnancy was a substantial motivating reason for the adverse action
  • That the employee suffered some type of harm from the employer’s action.

To establish a case of pregnancy discrimination, an employee must show that her employer knew she was pregnant and evidence of pregnancy-discriminatory motive on defendant’s part. 

Which type of workers are covered by pregnancy discrimination laws in California?

  • Traditional full-time employees
  • Part time employees
  • Temporary employees (“temps”)
  • Job applicants
  • Unpaid interns

What should you do if you believe you have a pregnancy discrimination claim?

If you think you might have a claim for workplace discrimination based on pregnancy, then you need to speak to a lawyer.  Victims of pregnancy discrimination under California law can be eligible for backpay, punitive damages, and compensation for emotional pain and suffering.