We Help Protect
California's Employees


In the modern workplace, balancing professional responsibilities with parenting duties is an ongoing challenge for many. Recognizing this, California law provides strong protections for working parents, including rights to family leave, accommodations for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and protection against discrimination. 

However, asserting these rights can sometimes lead to employer retaliation, leaving parents in a precarious position. Here’s what you need to know about the rights of parents in the workplace, what constitutes retaliation, and the steps to take if you face retaliation in California.

Understanding Parents’ Rights in the Workplace

California stands at the forefront of states championing the rights of working parents. These rights include:

  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA): The CFRA allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave within a 12-month period for the birth of a child, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, or for the serious health condition of the employee or a family member. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the CFRA applies to same-sex partners and covers a broader range of family members.
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave: California law allows employees who are disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to take up to four months of pregnancy disability leave (PDL). This leave is available even if the employer does not offer other short-term disability leave, and it applies regardless of the length of time the employee has worked for the employer.
  • Reasonable Accommodation for Pregnancy: California employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation for employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions if requested by the employee, with the advice of her healthcare provider. This can include modifications to work duties, temporary transfer to a less strenuous position, or the provision of a private space for expressing breast milk other than a bathroom.
  • Kin Care: Employees are entitled to use up to half of their accrued sick leave benefits to attend to the illness of a family member, offering flexibility for working parents to care for sick children without losing pay.

California’s laws are designed to support working parents, but being aware of these rights and how to assert them is crucial. If you believe your rights as a working parent have been violated, it may be beneficial to consult with a legal professional who specializes in employment law to explore your options.

What Constitutes Retaliation?

In California workplaces, retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, filing a complaint about workplace discrimination or harassment, participating in an investigation or lawsuit against the employer, requesting or taking family leave, asking for accommodations for a disability or pregnancy, and reporting violations of the law to authorities (whistleblowing). The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and other state and federal laws specifically prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who assert their rights under these laws.

Adverse actions that could be considered retaliation include:

  • Termination or layoffs
  • Demotion or reduction in pay
  • Denial of promotions or advancement opportunities
  • Reduction in work hours
  • Negative performance evaluations that are not justified by the employee’s work performance
  • Increased scrutiny or micromanagement that is not related to work performance
  • Transfer to a less desirable position or location
  • Exclusion from training or professional development opportunities
  • Harassment or intimidation

It’s important to note that for an action to be considered retaliatory, there must be a clear link between the adverse action and the employee’s engagement in protected activities. The timing of the employer’s adverse action in relation to the employee’s protected activity can be a significant factor in establishing a case for retaliation. Additionally, employees are protected from retaliation even if the complaint they made turns out to be unfounded, as long as it was made in good faith.

Steps to Take if You Face Retaliation in California

If you believe your employer has retaliated against you for asserting your parental rights, taking decisive action is crucial. Here are steps to consider:

  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all interactions related to your request for accommodations, leave, or any complaints filed, including emails, letters, and notes from meetings. Document any changes in your job duties, performance evaluations, or treatment by supervisors and coworkers.
  • Review Company Policies: Familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies on family leave, discrimination, and retaliation. This can provide a framework for understanding your rights and the proper channels for addressing your concerns.
  • File an Internal Complaint: If your employer has a procedure for filing complaints, follow this process to raise your concerns about retaliation officially.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an attorney who specializes in employment law to understand your rights and options. An attorney can guide you on how to proceed, including filing a claim with the California Department of Labor (DOL) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If internal efforts do not resolve the issue, you may need to file a claim with the DOL or EEOC. These agencies can investigate your claim, mediate disputes, and, if necessary, permit you to file a lawsuit.

Set a Good Example and Stand Up for Your Rights

Asserting your rights as a parent should not lead to punishment in the workplace. California law provides robust protections for working parents, but awareness and understanding of these rights are critical to ensuring they are respected. If you face retaliation for exercising your rights, take action to protect yourself and seek the support you need to navigate the legal landscape. At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we believe that standing up for your rights not only benefits you but also helps create a more inclusive and supportive workplace for all parents. We’re dedicated to helping workers like you hold their employers accountable for retaliation and other rights violations to improve the working world for all parents. Learn more about how we can assist you by scheduling your consultation with our parental discrimination law firm today.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Rss Feed