Labor and Employment

Can My Employer Fire Me If I’m Pregnant?

By Sachi Barreiro, Attorney, University of San Francisco School of Law

If your employer has at least 15 employees, it cannot fire you because of your pregnancy. (Your state might also have an antidiscrimination law that applies to smaller employees.) However, the key word is “because.” As long as the reason for your termination isn’t related to your pregnancy, your employer is acting legally. In other words, being pregnant does not give you guaranteed job protection for any reason. Your employer can still fire you for nondiscriminatory reasons.

Of course, the tricky part is figuring out whether your pregnancy had anything to do with your termination. Most employers aren’t going to come right out and say that they are discriminating against pregnant employees. Instead, you may need to point to indirect evidence of discrimination—for example, by showing that your performance reviews have been stellar, that you were replaced with a lower-performing male employee, and that the company has fired five other pregnant employees for “poor performance” when their performance reviews were above average.

Go to the main employment discrimination FAQ for employees page.

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