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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

You can face discrimination for thinking about getting pregnant

Pregnancy discrimination recently made headlines again when presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she lost a teaching job once she became visibly pregnant. While some outlets cast doubt on the claims, many women knew this was a story that was far too common than most men realize. 

Despite laws to protect women who want to start families, many women still face pregnancy discrimination in their day-to-day lives. Some women do not even have to be pregnant for discrimination to start. Some employers will see a young woman who perhaps just married and suspect she will want to have a child soon. The employers may not hire this woman for fear she will take time off, so they just avoid hiring her in the first place. It is critical to be aware of the signs of discrimination and to fight for your rights if you suspect it happened to you. 

Can you spot the signs of age discrimination?

San Francisco is a hub of employment opportunities. The range of possible employers is vast, and with skills like yours, finding something and remaining there for years to come is probable.

You may start to get the feeling that your age is a factor in decisions regarding hiring. You believe your experience is a positive thing companies would want to tap into, but getting turned down is making you rethink this line of thought. Even when you find employment, you may still feel like your age is a factor in your treatment. Discover some of the warning signs of age discrimination around the workplace.

4 subtle forms of age discrimination

If you are an older member of society, you may have a tremendous amount to offer any employer. After all, you have seen trends come and go. You also potentially have decades of experience in your sector. Still, age discrimination happens every day somewhere in California. 

Put simply, age discrimination involves treating someone differently than other workers simply because of his or her age. If you are at least 40, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects you from workplace discrimination based on your age. While terminating an older worker is a clear sign of workplace discrimination, other forms are subtler. Here are four of them: 

Did you get passed over for a key promotion?

You have been with the company for five years. A promotion comes up, and you decide to apply. You did the same thing last year, but it went to another co-worker. You wondered at the time if they were qualified, but you didn't think about it too much.

This year, you know you are the most qualified candidate they have. After all, the only competition already got promoted. You apply, feeling like the job is definitely going to go to you.

Steps to take after your termination

It has happened. You've received a termination notice from your employer. Even if you saw it coming, it doesn't make it any easier for you to move on with your life. And that's especially the case if you feel that you've been the victim of a wrongful termination.

Rather than take what your company offers and move on, it's important to learn more about the reason for your termination and your legal rights. Here are some steps to take:

  • Ask for more information: Dig deeper to better understand the reason for your termination. Was it performance-related? Do you have reason to believe you're being discriminated against?
  • Collect evidence: If you feel that your termination violated your legal rights, collect evidence to back up your claim. For example, if you have a discriminatory email from a supervisor, print it out and keep it for your records.
  • Review your employment contract: This will outline the terms and conditions of your employment, including the process of terminating the contract. You may come to learn that your employer owes you severance pay, which is something you can negotiate on your way out the door.

How to request Family and Medical Leave Act leave

Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you may be able to take time away from work to deal with a major medical problem that's affecting you or an immediate family member.

However, even if you qualify for FMLA, there are steps you must take in order to request time off. Here's what you should do:

  • Learn more about your eligibility: For example, other employees in your company may be eligible for FMLA, but that doesn't mean it holds true for you. A common instance is someone asking for FMLA when the company hasn't employed them for more than 12 months.
  • Give notice: It's not always possible to give advanced notice, but you should do your best to do so. When possible, give a minimum of 30 days' notice before you want to start taking FMLA leave.
  • Provide more information: Your employer can only ask for so much information about your medical situation, so it's up to you to provide enough information to show that you're eligible for FMLA leave.
  • Wait for a response: Once you make an FMLA request, your employer has five days to respond. Hold them to this if they're slacking on getting back to you.

Sexual harassment training will soon be mandatory in California

Many positives have come out of the "#MeToo" movement. One of the more positive outcomes has been the passing of laws requiring increased sexual harassment training in the workplace. At least six states including California have passed laws requiring employers to offer this in recent months.

California's newly passed law requires all employers who have five or more workers to offer mandatory sexual harassment training effective January 2021.

What rights do you have as a pregnant woman in the workplace?

Working while pregnant or nursing can prove difficult for a number of different reasons, but you may find it especially troublesome if your employer fails to make reasonable accommodations as a result of your condition. However, if your employer maintains a staff of at least 15 people, two federal laws give you certain rights regarding being pregnant in the workplace.

More specifically, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act both protects you and sets guidelines that your employer must follow concerning pregnant employees. Just what types of protections do these federal laws allow you?

What is considered to be disparate impact or treatment?

Most workplace discrimination lawsuits that were filed around the time the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law had to do with racial discrimination. While race continues to be a leading reason that employees or prospective employees file workplace discrimination lawsuits, it's not the only reason. Many individuals have been motivated to sue because they belong to other protected classes in recent years.

Disparate impact refers to a situation in which workers belonging to protected classes such as a religion, age bracket, race or disability status are treated more unfavorably by employers than those individuals who belong to a nonminority group.

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