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Employers cannot discriminate against pregnant people

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2022 | Employment Law

In our state, we are blessed to have strong employment discrimination laws that exceed what is required at the federal level. Indeed, California has some of the most worker protections of any state in the United States, including for pregnant people.

The basics

Unlike federal pregnancy discrimination laws, California discrimination laws (California Code, Title 2, Section 11035) apply to employers with as few as five employees. These laws apply to a person’s entire pregnancy, the childbirth itself, including any loss during the pregnancy, along with any mental or physical conditions that result from the pregnancy or a loss. The regulations bar any discrimination, like firing, harassment, etc. All one needs is to be employed for at least 12 months, or have worked at least 1,250 in a 12-month period.

Pregnancy related disabilities

One may incur a pregnancy disability that mandates the need for a reasonable accommodation. These disabilities can be mental or physical, as long as they relate to the pregnancy or birth. To qualify, they must prevent the person from performing an essential duty of their job, or the job will cause undue risk to the baby or pregnancy, as determined by the health care provider. Examples include severe morning sickness, bed rest, hypertension, post-partum depression, etc.

Pregnancy accommodations

A pregnancy accommodation is a change to the workplace or policy that allows the pregnant person to perform their job. Modifications include making work conditions or duties less strenuous, sitting on the job, transfers to a less hazardous or strenuous position, more frequent or longer breaks, lactation accommodations, Pregnancy Disability Leave, etc.

Pregnancy Disability Leave?

For our Los Angeles, California, readers, this is leave that is given because of a pregnancy disability, the length of which is determined by one’s health care provider. It can be up to four months (Section 11042). This leave is in addition to any other leave that a pregnant person is entitled under the California Employment and Housing Act, California Family Rights Act, other state laws and local ordinances, FMLA or employer leave policies. The key takeaway for our Woodland Hills readers is that California has a litany of laws that protect pregnant people, though, one may need to contact an attorney to get the full scope of what is available in a person’s specific situation.