What Are My Rights As a Pregnant Employee in California?

You may be asking yourself, What are my rights as a pregnant employee in California? When it comes to pregnant employee rights, California has some of the most progressive labor laws in the country. During pregnancy, Golden State employees are entitled to a host of rights and benefits, ensuring that their career growth and financial stability don't suffer.

For many people, becoming a parent is one of life’s landmarks, filled with anticipation and a fair share of necessary planning. It can be daunting, but when it comes to your career prospects especially, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep reading to learn more about these rights and how understanding them can help minimize your anxiety and maximize your preparation.

What Rights Do I Have While Pregnant on the Job?

U.S. and state employment laws ensure you can do your job comfortably and that your employer treats you fairly while pregnant. They include the following protections.

Adaptations for Your Changing Needs

The law requires your employer to recognize that your needs can change throughout your pregnancy and adapt to them. To this end, legislation like California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) direct employers to make reasonable alterations to their working environment to accommodate you while you are pregnant. These tweaks might include:

  • Rearranging tasks to meet your capabilities while you are pregnant,
  • Offering temporary assignments to less strenuous or hazardous work,
  • Providing support with physically demanding tasks to ensure safety,
  • Changing your schedule to accommodate doctors' appointments,
  • Increasing the frequency and duration of breaks to help alleviate physical strain,
  • Providing a chair or stool if standing gets to be too much,
  • Ensuring your workstations are ergonomically suitable to prevent discomfort, and
  • Adapting performance targets to reflect your current capacity.

With these types of accommodations, you can maintain your health and well-being, as well as your workplace roles and productivity.

Equal Treatment in All Employment Areas

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) bars employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against pregnant employees in hiring, firing, or workplace policies. Additionally, pregnancy laws in California, like the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), prohibit pregnancy discrimination and require employers with five or more employees to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations. Here's a closer look at what these laws entail:

  • It is illegal to pay you less because you are pregnant;
  • It is illegal to demote you because you are pregnant;
  • It is illegal to terminate your because you are pregnant;
  • Your employer must evaluate opportunities for advancement, promotions, and professional development without regard to your pregnancy; and
  • Your employer may not discontinue your benefits, including health insurance and access to professional growth programs, because you are pregnant.

These laws aim to maintain fair and equal treatment to protect your career trajectory during pregnancy. This commitment ensures professional continuity and stability so you don’t have to choose between your job and family during this changing time.

Los Angeles Employment Attorney

What Are My Pregnancy Leave Rights?

When it comes to pregnant employee rights, California and federal laws include protected leave for new parents. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  is a federal law that allows eligible employees up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in 12 months for the birth of a child and to care for a newborn. To be eligible, an employee must work for a covered employer, have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutively), have put in at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12 months immediately preceding the leave, and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

Eligible employees may also take additional leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) if they worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the date they want to begin their leave. This leave may be up to 12 work weeks in 12 months for a child’s birth. Although the law only provides for unpaid leave, employees may use paid leave while taking CFRA leave under certain circumstances.

California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)

For employees disabled by their pregnancy, California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) allows eligible employees to take up to four months of pregnancy-related leave and return to their same or comparable job. PDL is not for an automatic period but for the time that your pregnancy disables you.

Neither do you need to take leave all at once. Instead, you can take it on an as-needed basis as required by your health care provider, including intermittent leave or a reduced work schedule, all of which counts against your four-month entitlement. Your leave may be paid or unpaid, depending on your employer’s policy.

California Paid Family Leave (PFL)

You may also be eligible for state disability insurance or Paid Family Leave (PFL) to bond with your infant. If eligible, you may receive benefit payments for up to eight weeks. Typically, these benefits are about 60 to 70% of your weekly wages earned 5 to 18 months before your claim start date. Unlike the FMLA or CFRA, PFL provides continued benefit payments but not job protections.

Contact Starpoint LC Today

At Starpoint LC, our skilled pregnancy discrimination lawyers take the time to understand your situation and provide assertive, personalized advice and legal strategies to protect your rights throughout your pregnancy. Having successfully represented numerous employees in pregnancy discrimination-related disputes, we understand even the most complex employment laws.

Our detailed understanding ensures we cover every angle, including gathering comprehensive evidence, preparing legal documents, and strategizing the best approach to present your case, ensuring we provide exemplary legal representation you can count on. We’ve never lost a case! And we’ve won millions in settlements and verdicts for our numerous satisfied clients. Call us today for a free consultation, and let you explain how we can help you.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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