Fired for Pregnancy against California Labor Law


Yuba City, CA Andrea was an exemplary employee at the gas station and she had no doubt that her employer would comply with the California labor law when Andrea told him about her pregnancy. “He promised I would get my job back after maternity leave, but instead I got lied to,” she says. And in doing so, her employer violated the California labor code.

Andrea’s employer would be wise to offer her job back and terminate his nephew (Andrea’s replacement) instead. Pregnancy discrimination is a violation of the Family Act Law, which clearly states that women who take maternity leave must be reinstated under the same conditions as employees returning from disability leave.

All states do not have the same rules and regulations, however. Fortunately for Andrea there are even stricter regulations in the state of California. For instance, The Pregnancy Disability Act (PDA) sates that “Any employer that’s subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (i.e., has 15 or more employees) must comply with the PDA.” That would likely mean that Andrea’s employer would not need to comply. But California’s provisions on pregnancy disability leave stipulate that the employer is subject to the PDA with as few as five employees. In addition, the leave is capped at four months.

As well, pregnancy disability leave comes in addition to leave taken under the California Family Rights Act (covering employers with 50 or more employees). So, an employee covered by both laws could feasibly take four months of pregnancy disability leave and then 12 weeks of family leave to care for a new child.

Back to Andrea. She started working as a cashier for Mohammed Khan at Pacific Petroleum Market in July 2011. (Incidentally, her employer is not unfamiliar with California law: he was charged with selling alcohol to minors at the gas station). Andrea worked hard: in addition to her cashier job, she cleaned the store, washrooms, everywhere. “I pretty much did everything and I was good with the customers,” she adds.

“I found out that I was pregnant at the end of August and I told Mr Khan right away. He told me to let him know when I decide to go on maternity leave, but I went out on March 31, 2012, just three weeks before my due date. Everything went well and I was secure in the fact that I had a job to come back to - it isn’t easy to get jobs here.”

Andrea called her boss when her son was six weeks old (by California law she has up to eight weeks to return to work). “He told me that he had hired his nephew to replace me until college started; it was just for the summer, and to call him back in August,” Andrea explains. “I was able to collect another six weeks for mother-child bonding from disability and that covered me.

“I called him back in August. ‘You promised my job back,’ I said. ‘Well my nephew is my family and he comes first,’ he replied. He told me that he would be opening a dollar store and I should drop by and talk to him, which I did. Instead, he told me that he wasn’t opening the store and said, ‘You’re a good worker and you should be able to find a job.’ Maybe he thought it was some sick joke, making me walk one and a half miles to the gas station to tell me there was no work for me. Why make me wait three months? I don’t know why he did this. I also have a six-year-old and I had child care set up for both children. He knew as much.”

Andrea adds that her employer is currently under investigation for not letting his former employees get unemployment insurance. Clearly, Andrea’s employer should also be under investigation with the California Labor Board for pregnancy discrimination.

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1 Comment

  1. stephani
    May 12, 2013
    I have worked for an assisted living community for a little over five years when I went on maternity leave. When I came back to work my boss demoted me and droped my pay by 0.58 cents,all raises in which I had earned. I am very upset and I totally feel harressed at my job because my boss don't like me. I went to HR but they did nothing. Now I am taking it to the labor board. The girl that replaced me is friends with the boss and feel that is why I don't get my possistion back.

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