Expectant mothers have special legal protections in the workplace under California employment laws. The Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams has successfully handled numerous discrimination matters on behalf of employees in Orange County and throughout Southern California.
Although pregnancy discrimination is illegal under both federal and California law, women commonly experience negative impacts on their jobs as the result of becoming pregnant or having a child. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy can occur when an employee experiences a negative employment consequence because she became pregnant or expressed an expectation of becoming pregnant. Discriminatory employment actions can include failure to hire, failure to promote, demotion, disparate pay, termination, or other adverse treatment on the job due to a pregnancy. Discrimination also occurs when the employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations that would allow the employee to continue working during pregnancy, including time off for doctor visits.
Pregnancy Disability Leave or PDL
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) guarantees leave for employees who are physically disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or because of a related medical condition. Leave for reasons of pregnancy disability is referred to as Pregnancy Disability Leave or “PDL.”
Any California employee who becomes disabled because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition is entitled to 4 months of leave per pregnancy. If the employer provides more than 4 months of leave for other types of disabilities, it must provide the same leave for pregnancy.
PDL may be taken any time the employee is physically unable to work because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition. The disability can occur before or after delivery, or both. Pregnancy related disabilities include severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth and loss or termination of pregnancy and complications associated with pregnancy and/or childbirth.
Pregnancy disability leave is available from any California employer with 5 or more employees. There are no tenure or hours worked requirements for the employee. Both full and part time employees are eligible. The employee need only be disabled because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.
Doctor Visits Are Included
The employer must provide time off for pregnancy-related doctor visits, including prenatal and postnatal care.
Employee Notice Obligations
If possible, the employee should provide her employer with at least 30 days’ notice before taking leave in connection with a pregnancy. The notice should include the date on which the leave will begin and the estimated duration. If 30 days’ notice is not possible, notice should be given as soon as practicable.
Pay and Benefits During Pregnancy Disability Leave
California pregnancy disability leave is unpaid, but employers may choose to provide paid leave. Although the employer can require the employee to use any accrued sick time during pregnancy leave, employers are prohibited from requiring the employee to use accrued paid time off or vacation time. The employee may however choose to use paid time off.
Although paid leave is not mandatory, you may qualify for State Disability Insurance benefits while on pregnancy disability leave.
Right to Return to Work After Pregnancy Leave
It is against the law for an employer to terminate an employee because she is pregnant or on pregnancy leave. The employer is required to reinstate the employee after leave has ended to the same position she had before the lave began. It is also unlawful for the employer to retaliate or discriminate against the employee by reducing her pay or otherwise materially altering the conditions of employment. Harassment on the basis of pregnancy or gender is also unlawful.
Leave for Baby Bonding
In addition to pregnancy disability leave, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides employees of employers with 5 or more employees to provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave to bond with a new child. Baby bonding leave must be completed within 1 year of the child’s birth.
Reasonable Accommodations to Continue Working
Some expectant or new mothers choose to remain on the job, but may need accommodations to permit them to continue working. Examples of accommodations may include time off for medical visits, modified duties, additional break time, different or additional seating or transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position.
If you request an accommodation for a disability, including a pregnancy-related disability, the employer is required to engage you in an interactive process to determine whether the requested accommodation is reasonable and can be made.
The Orange County based Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams is an elite law firm that represents employees in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage & hour, and other employment matters. Strict time limits may apply to your claim, so you shouldn’t wait. Contact us today at 949-528-4220 or use the contact form at the top of this page, and we will respond promptly.