The plaintiff must prove her pregnancy was a “substantial motivating reason” for her termination, not merely a “motivating reason,” the California Court of Appeal has ruled, reversing a jury verdict in favor of the employee in a pregnancy discrimination case under the California Fair Employment Housing and Employment Act (FEHA). Alamo v. Practice Management Information Corp., No. B230909 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 5, 2013). In addition, the Court held the employer was not entitled to an instruction that it would have taken the same employment action regardless of the employee’s pregnancy, the “mixed motive” defense, because it failed to plead that defense in its answer.
Articles Discussing Sex Discrimination Claims In California.
An employee who was disabled as a result of her pregnancy and had exhausted all leave under California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) was entitled to additional leave as a reasonable accommodation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), the California Court of Appeal has ruled in a case of first impression. Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc., No. B237761 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 21, 2013).
The interplay among state and federal employment leave requirements can be confusing and often becomes a trap for the unwary, as occurred in the recent case of Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc., No. B237761 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 21, 2013).
In regulations that became effective December 30, 2012, California employers received additional guidance on how to handle leaves of absence for employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. This guidance comes in the form of amended pregnancy disability leave (PDL) regulations applicable to all California employers that employ five or more employees. According to the newly formed Fair Employment and Housing Council, these amended regulations are necessary to, among other things:
Amendments to California’s pregnancy anti-discrimination regulations will extend coverage to “perceived pregnancy,” defined as “being regarded or treated by an employer or other covered entity as being pregnant or having a related medical condition.” With no additional guidance as to who is included in this protected class (which may include those who are not pregnant, but, because of a perception that they are, suffer adverse employment actions), it remains to be seen how the Department of Fair Employment and Housing Fair Employment and Housing Commission or California courts will interpret this term.
On February 7, 2012, in a 2-1 decision a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Perry v. Brown that Proposition 8, a voter initiative that amended the California Constitution to provide, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The majority affirmed the judgment of the district court on narrow grounds not considered by the lower court, ruling that Proposition 8 had taken away from same-sex couples the right to marry that they already had under California law without a legitimate reason for doing so. The court emphasized that it was not deciding the broader constitutional question of whether a state may deny same-sex couples the right to marry in the first place.
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed sweeping legislation aimed at affording pregnant women certain employment and insurance protections. Two sets of companion legislation, SB 299 and AB 592, along with SB 222 and AB 210, attempt to ensure that all pregnant women maintain their insurance benefits while on pregnancy-related leaves.