The federal law requires that women be permitted to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Care Act if an employer and employee both meet certain guidelines. However, many women choose to work during pregnancy right up until they deliver their child. In many cases, during this time, a woman has medical issues stemming from the pregnancy that prevents her from working in the same way she did previously. California law requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for any pregnant woman in order to give them an opportunity to continue working while pregnant.
Understanding Reasonable Accommodations
The State of California has established laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee solely based on their physical or mental disabilities. This protection against discrimination extends to any pregnant woman who is considered disabled due to her pregnancy. In these cases, an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to adjust a pregnant woman’s working environment in such a way that she can perform the essential functions of her job and continue working.
Types of Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable accommodations to the work environment for a pregnant woman could include the following:
- Changing or modifying work duties to be less burdensome or strenuous
- Providing additional support, such as a chair or stool while performing duties that normally involve standing
- Temporary changing or transferring the employee to a different type of job within the company that would be easier to perform while pregnant
- Providing more frequent breaks or longer breaks
- Providing lactation accommodation
- Providing either pregnancy disability leave or additional leave after pregnancy disability leave ends
The Right to Reasonable Accommodations
You have the right as a pregnant employee, under both federal and state law, to reasonable accommodations or certain types of leave if you are pregnant. It is illegal for your employer to take retaliatory measures against you or fire you for requesting these reasonable accommodations. However, it is important to note that if you decide to take pregnancy disability leave, your employer may or may not offer you paid leave depending on your employer’s policy regarding other types of temporary disability leave. Also, your employer may require you to first use your acquired sick leave prior to allowing pregnancy disability leave. Your employer must also continue to pay for your group health insurance coverage if you decide to take pregnancy disability. Whether you take a reasonable accommodation and continue to work at your job, or decide to take pregnancy disability leave, there are many complex and challenging nuances to the law that you should understand before making your final decision.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
At California Employment Counsel, APC, we understand that you may feel anxious about requesting reasonable accommodations during your pregnancy. If you feel you have been discriminated against due to your request for reasonable accommodations, contact our experienced lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your case. Contact us online or call (714) 462-8376 to discuss your legal rights today.