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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]Most employers mean well. Most managers want the best for their team and make decisions based on well-being. They take it easy on team members who are stressed out, they send food home with the interns, and they have an understanding word for those going through tough times. But sometimes, a well-meaning action accidentally crosses the line into discrimination. This is especially common when an employee becomes pregnant.

Well-Meaning Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

Everyone wants to be kind to a pregnant woman, to help her grow the baby. It’s anthropological. It’s in our DNA to pamper and take care of a gestating mother. From a husband, it’s endearing. From friends and even coworkers, it’s charming until it’s annoying. From an employer, unfortunately, it can become discrimination. “Taking it easy” on a pregnant mother can become denying her work opportunities or undue favoritism.

The EEOC draws the line at the employee’s choice. You may choose to ask for temporary pregnancy-disability accommodations. You may choose to ask for light duty, and your employer must grant it. But even a well-meaning employer can accidentally deny rights by insisting that a mother take time off, avoid specific work, or even grant privileges based on pregnancy. Or they might forget to respect your rights in specific ways, like providing a locked pumping room.

Here are a few tips for new mothers to take charge and help their good-natured employer avoid accidental pregnancy discrimination:

1. Officially Inform Your Employer and Team

Discrimination often happens when facts are left unspoken. If management is left “guessing” that you are pregnant, they are free to make decisions based on that almost-knowledge without officially crossing the line. Make it clear by making it clear. Officially announce your pregnancy either publicly or privately. Depending on your preferences and team, either make an open team-wide announcement or quietly let your manager know that you are pregnant and have your work plans under control for the upcoming months.

2. Be Clear About Your Own Performance Expectations

Employers often unintentionally assume that a pregnant mother will need light-duty work assignment, and you might, eventually. But “when” is up to you and your doctor to decide. Let your employer know –under no uncertain terms– that you will be pursuing your normal workload right up until the gravity of your gravidity is unavoidable. If there are projects or deadlines to consider, talk about them so your employer knows that everything is under control and scheduled with your pregnancy or you can make plans together with that understanding.

3. Do Ask If/When You Need Help or Accommodation

When the time comes, do ask. The EEOC defines that pregnant mothers qualify for a special accommodation called “temporary disability due to pregnancy“. It’s the unique arrangement so that mothers in early trimesters and those with easy pregnancies can carry on without impacting their work while mothers who do need accommodations can ask for and receive it. This allows you to ask for something as serious as disability leave or as minor as a foot-rest at your desk.

4. Propose or Provide Your Own Solutions

When it comes to accommodations, learn from the disability community: Provide your own solutions. The best way to get what you want and what you need from your employer during pregnancy is to make it happen. If you want to make a minor change, like that foot-rest, source your own box or upturned trashcan to fit the bill. If you need to change schedules, have a new schedule sketched out and ready to go. This makes treating you well the path of least-resistance for your employer.

5. Talk Frankly About a Pumping/Nursing Room if Necessary

Before the baby arrives, be frank about whether you’ll need your law-provided locked room for pumping or for feeding the baby. If you plan to go all-formula, just politely let your employer know they can skip that step. If you need the room, come in with a room and schedule already in mind. You are obliged to a lock and privacy, so make that easy for your employer if at all possible and they will likely comply.

6. Know When to Say “That’s Personal”

Finally, you can protect your own privacy simply by enforcing a polite/professional line between business and personal. If your employer (or coworkers) ask questions that shouldn’t be relevant, you can simply remind them each time that the answer is “personal”.  No matter how well-meaning, ultimately, pregnancy is a private matter of the mother in question and only your work performance or specific workplace needs should factor in.

Here at Aiman-Smith and Marcy, we know that most employers mean well. But when they don’t, or when they refuse to be corrected, the legal system is on your side. As an expecting or new mother, you have the right to fair and equal treatment in the workplace and to determine if/when you do need disability accommodations. If those rights are not being respected despite your best efforts in the workplace, contact us today. We are here to help curb employers who are out of hand and formally remind employers who have forgotten the law. Let us help handle your employer troubles.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986