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What To Expect From An Employer In California When Working While Pregnant?

What To Expect From An Employer In California When Working While Pregnant?

Disclosure – this is a collaborative post.

An employer must provide pregnant women with reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related illnesses or medical conditions. These employer obligations and more are highlighted in the following three acts;

  • Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – state law
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) – state law
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – federal law

Even though employers are required to provide proper accommodation to pregnant workers, they rarely do. A majority of women face one or other form of discrimination at work when pregnant. If you are wondering can you get fired for being pregnant, the simple answer is ‘No’. These are the things you can expect from your employer in pregnancy;

  1. Formal notification of your PDL rights

Upon informing your employer of your pregnancy, they must provide a formal notice of your rights under California’s PDL Law. The state of California is fairly protective of pregnant workers, but you cannot expect to avail all your rights if you do not know what they are. Awareness of your rights is the first step towards gaining them.

  1. Reasonable accommodations for work

An employer must provide a suitable environment and accommodations for a pregnant worker if it doesn’t place an ‘undue burden’ on their business. A few examples of reasonable accommodations are;

  • Longer or additional breaks for bathroom usage, eating, resting, or performing blood sugar self-tests
  • Taking some time off for medical appointments
  • Providing assistance to lift heavy bags
  • Equipment modification
  • Schedule modification
  • Exemption from mandatory overtime
  • Allowing work from home where appropriate
  • Reassignment to a less strenuous part of the job
  1. Engagement in good faith interactive process

Most employers try to get out of as many obligations to pregnant workers as possible. They try to give excuses and divert attention elsewhere. This conduct is not acceptable for an employer. They must engage with you and explore solutions for your reasonable accommodation in good faith, not try to get rid of it or do a half-hearted job. You may need to attend several meetings with the employer and go back and forth on several points until both come to a consensus. 

  1. No forceful leaves if you can work with reasonable accommodation

Some employers force their employees to take a leave instead of providing reasonable accommodations because that is an easier option for them, which is illegal. As long as you can work with reasonable accommodations, you cannot be forced to take a leave. 

  1. Retaliation against an employee for requesting reasonable accommodations is illegal

An employer cannot forcibly reduce your work hours, deny promotion, deny salary increment, cut your pay, terminate or lessen the benefits, reduce your schedule, or terminate you because you requested pregnancy-related reasonable accommodations. You are entirely within your rights to make such requests without fear of prejudice. If an employer discriminates against you because of such requests, they are breaking the law. You are fully within your rights to contact a lawyer, sue them for it and request compensation.

Disclosure – this is a collaborative post.