Discrimination-for-Pregnancy-and-Post-Pregnancy.jpg (4297×2317)People with virtually every kind of encumberment are likely to find themselves as a victim of some kind of discrimination. What does human rights law say about pregnancy? The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1963 (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act). Women who are pregnant have to be treated the same as other applicants or employees, considering only their ability to effectively carry out their responsibilities. The same is true of post-pregnancy employment.

Firing or not hiring women because of pregnancy.

Prior to 1978, before the amendment was passed, it was common practice to fire women as soon as they became pregnant. Many women with promising careers saw their professional growth stymied because their employment was capped when they wanted to begin a family. Even though civil rights law now forbids this practice of discrimination, many companies continue to terminate women who become pregnant or have rules restricting their employment after pregnancy. In one year, more than 5,000 complaints of pregnancy discrimination were acted on by government agencies. In 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission had to issue special new guidance to employers to remind them of the PDA laws.

The biggest complaint reported by the commission was that employers continue to fire women who become pregnant. Sometimes employers couch their violations behind good intentions. Employers might explain that they are worried about safety, for instance. However, no matter how it is justified, discrimination against pregnancy in employment is illegal. It constitutes a civil violation that could result in a legal suit. Even if working conditions are difficult or physically demanding, an employer cannot fire a woman because she is pregnant.

Before 1978, companies would refuse to hire a woman because she could eventually become pregnant. This was a large part of the general issue of discrimination against women in the workplace and part of the workplace gender disparities that still exist.  Refusal to hire women who are pregnant or express their intention to become pregnant is still very common. The problem exists even in companies that rely on pregnant women as their customer base. The discrimination sometimes shows up in situations where a company will refuse to hire women in their childbearing years, younger women, or women newly married.

Forced Job Adjustments.

Employers cannot force a pregnant woman to change jobs or take time off if they are still able to perform their duties. Sometimes employers will re-assign pregnant women or new parents to less strenuous or less responsible jobs with the intention of protecting them. If the employee can perform her original duties and this reassignment is done without her consent, it violates the civil rights act. Employers are not permitted to base employment decisions on assumptions they make about women’s capabilities and health.

Pregnancy is not a disability.

The civil rights prohibition against discrimination for pregnancy is not the same as the civil rights prohibition against discrimination against disability. In the civil rights law, pregnancy is not considered a disability. A normal pregnancy does not entitle a woman to any special treatment. A note from a medical professional would be required to inform the workplace of a woman’s temporary pregnancy-related impairment. Common medical complications of pregnancy include severe morning sickness, elevated blood pressure, back pain, or temporary diabetes.

Women who have medical complications or temporary impairments during their pregnancy have to be treated the same as any other worker who has temporary medical impairments. Temporary light-duty assignments during the period when they impaired can be a “reasonable accommodation.” Temporary accommodation may simply mean that the pregnant woman be permitted to sit on a stool during her shift, instead of having to stand.

Post pregnancy provision.

Provisions in the Affordable Care Act now require that employers provide support for lactating mothers in the workplace. Larger employers (50 or more employees) are required to provide “reasonable breaks” to lactating mothers to pump breast milk for up to a year after childbirth. Employers are required to provide a safe and private place other than a bathroom for them to do so. A company cannot discriminate against a woman because she is lactating.

If you’d like greater guidance on how to legally defend yourself from workplace harassment during your pregnancy or post-pregnancy, contact us today.

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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