Rights You Need to Understand as a Pregnant Employee

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Rights You Need to Understand as a Pregnant Employee

Being pregnant comes with immense rewards, but it can also lead to related health concerns, physical limitations, increased exhaustion, and more. In other words, your pregnancy can interfere with your ability to do your job in exactly the same manner that you did prior to pregnancy. It’s important to know that there are laws in place that are intended to protect pregnant employees like you, and an experienced San Francisco employment lawyer can help ensure that your rights are well protected.  

Legal Protections

The federal government’s Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical concerns. Additionally, the State of California has some of the most comprehensive protections related to pregnancy in the nation. These fall into five basic categories. 

Making Reasonable Accommodations

Pregnancy can interfere with an employee’s ability to perform specific tasks and job duties, and employers are responsible for making the reasonable accommodations necessary to support pregnant employees. Examples of concerns that commonly affect pregnant employees include:

  • Weight-bearing restrictions
  • The need for rest breaks and more frequent bathroom breaks
  • Pregnancy-related health concerns, such as morning sickness, gestational diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, and postpartum depression
  • The loss of a pregnancy
  • Childbirth and childbirth recovery

Allowing Pregnancy Disability Leave

In California, employees are entitled to up to four months of unpaid pregnancy disability leave (PDL) related to any of the following:

  • Disability due to pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • A medical condition related to pregnancy

Pregnant employees can also use this leave for intermittent needs, such as prenatal doctor appointments.

Allowing Bonding Leave

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows up to 12 weeks of leave after a child’s birth, which is separate from PDL and is intended to foster bonding with the child. 

Ensuring Reinstatement

Employers in California are required to hold the same – or equivalent – positions for pregnant employees who return to work. Only if the employer can demonstrate via the preponderance of the evidence that the employee would have lost their job for a reason other than their pregnancy, such as a result of a mass layoff, is this requirement void. 

Allowing Lactation Accommodations

Once an employee returns to work after giving birth, they are entitled to reasonable lactation accommodations. If an employee wishes to express breast milk for their nursing infant, they must be afforded the opportunity to take the necessary lactation breaks in a private location that is reasonably close to their work area, and that is not in a public bathroom. 

It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced San Francisco Employment Lawyer

Jeannette Vaccaro at The Law Office of Jeannette A. Vaccaro in San Francisco is a focused employment lawyer who understands the challenges pregnant employees often face and dedicates her practice to helping clients like you prevail with beneficial claim resolutions. For more information about what we can do to help you, please don’t wait to contact us today. 

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