Under pregnancy discrimination laws, discrimination against pregnant women is illegal. Discrimination on the basis of "pregnancy, child birth, or related medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth" is treated as sex discrimination under California law. To prove pregnancy discrimination, the plaintiff must show that:
In California, employees are protected during and after pregnancy leave from work. The three most important statutes that deal with a woman’s ability to take pregnancy leave include California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (Gov Code § 12945(a)), the California Family Rights Act (Gov Code § 12945.2), and the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (29 USC §§ 2601 et seq). Each law governs different aspects of pregnancy leave, including the amount of time an employee may take off, extensions of that time for disabilities associated with childbirth, as well as requiring employers to accommodate the pregnant woman both before and after delivery.
California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law is perhaps the most inclusive and wide-spanning of the three statutes that cover pregnancy discrimination law. This statute covers all employers who have a minimum of five employees on staff. The PDLL covers any pregnant woman regardless of the amount of time they have been on the job. A woman who has been employed five weeks is within the same scope of the law as a woman who has been with the same employer five years, and treats both part-time employees equally as full-time employees.
The PDLL insures that a woman may take up to four months disability leave for disability associated with pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical conditions that may further reduce a woman’s ability to work.
In addition to leave, a woman may be entitled to further accommodation when she reenters the workplace under the PDLL, including, but not limited to, an accommodated work schedule, or reduced physical activity as advised by a woman’s physician. Women who have c-sections or other complications related to childbirth may be entitled to leave in excess of the four months provided by the PDLL. If additional leave time is required by an employee, that employee is required to be given the same rights after the four month marker as she was afforded prior to that mark.
The PDLL also protects an employee’s right to be reinstated in the same position as she was employed prior to taking pregnancy leave. There are two exceptions to this: The first is when “the employee would not otherwise have been employed in her same position at the time reinstatement is requested for legitimate business reasons unrelated to the employee taking pregnancy disability leave.” In other words, if the needs of the business would have normally shifted that woman’s position, regardless if she necessitated disability leave, then the employee’s position may be altered.
The second instance would be when “each means of preserving the job or duties for the employee would substantially undermine the employer’s ability to operate the business safely and efficiently.” If reinstatement of a woman post-leave would jeopardize the woman’s safety or significantly harm the business’s ability to operate safely, then the position may also be altered. If a company is not able to reinstate a woman’s position for either of these reasons, she must be given a comparable position, with comparable compensation. The burden of proof falls on the employer to substantiate why a woman was not reinstated post pregnancy disability leave.
If you believe your rights under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law have been violated, contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Sousa at 858-453-6122 for a free consultation.