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Pregnancy Leave

Women should be protected in the workplace - not discriminated against. We all agree with that. But are they? Does pregnancy discrimination still exist?

Pregnancy Discrimination?  An employee disabled by pregnancy is entitled to up to four months disability leave per pregnancy. Cal. Gov. Code §12945(a); Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) may be taken intermittently on an as-needed basis. There is no length of employment requirement before an employee disabled by pregnancy is entitled to PDL.  PDL is for the period of actual disability caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. PDL can be taken before or after birth during any period of time the woman is physically unable to work because of pregnancy.

If possible, an employee must provide her employer with at least 30 days advance notice of the date for which the pregnancy disability leave is sought and the estimated duration of the leave.  She cannot be discriminated against for taking pregnancy leave (pregnancy discrimination is against the law).  Notice should be given for planned medical appointments and of the expected date of birth. Verbal notice may be sufficient if it makes the employer aware that the employee needs PDL, and of the anticipated timing and duration of the PDL. 

In addition to guaranteed leave for pregnant employees, the FEHA (The California Fair Employment and Housing Act) requires covered employers to reasonably accommodate an employee's pregnancy and related medical conditions to the same extent as it would accommodate other disabilities. Gov. Code §12945(b)(1). As with other requests for reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to explore with the employee all possible means of reasonably accommodating her pregnancy related disability prior to making any employment related decision.

Reasonable accommodation can include, but is not limited to, changing job duties or work hours, providing leave, or relocating the work area. In Sanchez, the California Court of Appeal recently held that an employer may have to offer additional leave under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) as a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-related disability even after the employer has provided four months of leave under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) leave for a difficult pregnancy. In other words, after pregnancy disability leave ends, the employer still must engage in an interactive process and provide the employee with additional leave as a reasonable accommodation under FEHA. [Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc. (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 1331].  Call the Law Offices of Lauren Abrams in Beverly Hills at (310)205.2020 for a free consultation on the rights of employees in the workplace, including pregnant employees! 

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