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Pregnancy: what businesses need to know to avoid litigation

A lot of entrepreneurs consider owning and running their own business to be an exciting adventure. Not only do you get to help your product or service grow and prosper, you get to dabble in other things, such as the law, which can be just as exciting (and important) as keeping your business alive.

As we have pointed out before on this blog, it is incredibly important for businesses to always keep both state and federal laws in mind whenever making decisions for their company. That's because even small mistakes or misunderstandings can easily turn into huge legal issues that may require litigation. Just the prospect of litigation can have a huge effect on a company's reputation, which is why on this blog we like to bring up legal topics we hope will help our readers avoid such problematic situations.

This week, we'd like to address the topic of pregnant workers. Here in California, as well as across the nation, pregnancy discrimination is taken very seriously. Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer (or employee) treats a female employee unfavorably because of her pregnancy. Unfavorable treatment may include passing the employee up for a promotion, failing to provide adequate leave before or after delivery, or denying access to health insurance because she is pregnant.

It's worth pointing out that because pregnancy can lead to certain disabilities like diabetes and hypertension, disability discrimination may also occur, leaving a company liable in the event a complaint is filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

By making yourself aware of how pregnancy discrimination can lead to litigation, you have taken the first steps towards avoiding it in the future. If you do find yourself facing accusations though, seeking legal representation early is your best step.

Sources: The State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, "Pregnancy Leave," Accessed Jan. 22, 2015

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Pregnancy Discrimination," Accessed Jan. 22, 2015

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