Can Pregnancy Discrimination Laws Extend to Working Fathers?

Being mistreated in the workplace can be a demoralizing and emotionally taxing experience. Employment disputes like retaliation and unpaid wages can not only take a toll on an employee's mental and physical wellbeing, but can also hinder their career progression and ability to financially support themselves in a safe, ethical environment.

While there are various state and federal laws in place to protect against unfair treatment in the workplace, it’s essential for workers to understand their rights and assert them when needed. As a California employee, it’s crucial to know the type of mistreatment you’re experiencing, as this will help you better understand the laws in place to protect your employee rights.

Pregnancy discrimination is a common form of discrimination in the workplace. Under the law, it’s illegal to discriminate against current or future employees on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as breastfeeding or postpartum depression. While working moms are arguably the most obvious group protected by pregnancy discrimination laws, these legal protections can impact working dads as well.

What rights do employed fathers have in the workplace? Keep reading to learn how pregnancy discrimination can affect working dads in the state of California.

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in California

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace can have a significant impact on families. What state and federal laws protect against pregnancy discrimination?

Consider the following legal protections afforded to pregnant workers, parents, and families in California:

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a state law that protects working fathers from discrimination based on paternal status or involvement with pregnant employees. Employers are legally prohibited from denying employed fathers time off for paternal or family leave they’re rightfully entitled to as a result of pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions or complications, and childbirth.

The CFRA applies to employers with at least 50 workers and includes the following conditions:

  • Qualifying employees must work a minimum of 20 hours/week within 75 miles of the company location.
  • Employers must provide 12 weeks of parental or family leave within 1 year after the birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
  • Companies are legally obligated to maintain health insurance and any other benefits that apply to employees taking a leave of absence for paternal or familial purposes.

Additionally, if a mother experiences any medical issues or complications relating to her pregnancy, an employed father may be entitled to paid time off under the CFRA for childcare needs resulting from these complications.

Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying family and medical reasons. Applicable reasons include the birth, adoption or fostering of a child; caring for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition; or taking care of one’s own serious health condition.

Under the FMLA, employers must maintain group health insurance coverage for workers on leave, provided that the employee covers his/her portion of the premiums during the period of absence. Upon returning from an approved FMLA leave, employers must reinstate their employees to the same positions or jobs with equivalent pay and benefits, as well as any other privileges they had before going on leave.

It's illegal for California employers and companies to deprive working fathers of these employment opportunities on the grounds of current or future fatherhood or because they took FMLA-protected leaves.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, or PDA. This federal law applies to employers with a minimum of 15 workers and offers protections to both current and future employees, meaning that pregnancy discrimination is prohibited at any stage of employment, including during the application and hiring processes.

The PDA protects workers from being discriminated against based on:

  • Childbirth;
  • Contraception;
  • Past pregnancy;
  • Current pregnancy;
  • Potential pregnancy;
  • Having or choosing not to have an abortion; and/or
  • Medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth (such as breastfeeding, lactation, and postpartum depression).

What Rights Do Employed Fathers Have in California?

While working moms may be the first group that comes to mind when considering pregnancy discrimination, you may be surprised to learn that the legal protections afforded under the PDA extend to employed fathers as well.

Consider these common ways that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects working fathers and fathers-to-be in California:

  • Involvement with pregnant employees – It’s illegal for employers to discriminate against male employees who may be involved with a pregnant employee. Companies are also prohibited from discriminating against employed dads-to-be and male workers taking time off for paternal or family leave.
  • Paternal & Family Leave – Under the law, employers must treat working fathers in the same way as any other employee taking leave due to medical reasons. This includes providing equal access to health insurance and other benefits while they are away from work. Under California law, new fathers are entitled to 12 weeks of paternity leave after the birth of their child.
  • Reasonable Accommodations – Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), California employers are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for working fathers who may require them due to pregnancy-related conditions. For example, providing time off for medical appointments, offering more flexible scheduling, or more opportunities to work remotely can be considered reasonable accommodations for working dads under the law.

Working dads should take care to understand their employee rights under the law and assert them when needed. If you’re an employed parent, it’s critical to take swift legal action if you experience or suspect pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

Trusted Legal Advocacy for California Employees

At Polaris Law Group, we work exclusively with wronged employees. With over 25 years of experience, our accomplished employment lawyer has a longstanding reputation for taking on cases that other lawyers won’t. From sexual harassment to FMLA violations, Attorney Bill Marder has successfully recovered millions in unpaid wages for wronged workers throughout California.

No one should have to suffer the damaging effects of employment discrimination. If you’ve been unfairly treated by an employer, it’s essential to turn to a skilled legal advocate you can trust to keep your best interests at heart from start to finish. Our firm can fight to ensure your employee rights are protected and your voice is heard. We offer free case evaluations to best serve our clients.

Were you mistreated or discriminated against at work? Call (888) 796-4010 to discuss your case with our skilled Monterey County employment lawyer.

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