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I'm Pregnant and Being Laid Off - Do I Have Any Rights?

Lay offs during pregnancy are often devastating—both financially and emotionally.  One question many women have is whether being laid off during pregnancy is legal.  The answer—it depends.

Take a moment to envision the following not so hypothetical situation:  Big Boss and Little Boss are having a year end meeting to discuss the financial state of their company.  Big Boss and Little Boss are shocked to discover that the past year’s profit margins are the worst in the last ten years.  Big Boss decides that cut backs must be made by laying off several employees.  Big Boss raises his eyebrow and says to Little Boss, “We’ve got that customer service rep who is pregnant; she’ll be the first to go.”

Is laying off the pregnant employee legal?  If Big Boss has chosen to layoff the customer service representative for a legitimate business reason (such as seniority), no law has been violated.  However, if Big Boss chose to include the customer service representative in the lay off because of her pregnancy, he has violated California law. 

The scenario may unfold as follows:  Big Boss will have a meeting with the customer service representative and state that due to an unexpected “slow down in business,” he is forced to eliminate her position.  While this may cause the employee to feel that the termination was legitimate, you should be aware choosing an employee for lay off because of pregnancy is no different from terminating a pregnant woman on the basis of trumped up performance allegations—it’s unlawful.

For more information about pregnancy related issues, contact Sarah Schler at or  (310) 492-5757.


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Sarah Schlehr, your pregnancy lawyer






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