California’s Laws against Pregnancy Discrimination
California has some of the most stringent laws in the country against pregnancy discrimination. In fact, the number of pregnancy bias-related lawsuits here has skyrocketed since the state decided to pass laws that provide several accommodations for pregnant women.
Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of her pregnancy. Pregnant women are also eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave, and an employer must provide at least four months of such disability leave for a woman, who is considered disabled because of a pregnancy-related condition.
That could include being disabled due to extreme morning sickness, prenatal care, or if the woman has been advised bed rest by her doctor. The leave would also be applicable for childbirth, recovery from birth, as well as any other medical condition related to the pregnancy. “Disability” does not mean that the woman has been confined to her bed. However, if she’s not able to perform her job to the best of her capacity without risking herself or risking the completion of a pregnancy, then she is considered disabled under the law.
A pregnant woman who is unable to perform the physical tasks in her current job can ask the employer for a transfer to a less strenuous job.
If the employer currently requires that other disabled employees get a medical certification from a doctor verifying their disability, then he may require the pregnant employee to obtain similar medical certification, and not otherwise. For instance, a pregnant employee may get a medical verification from a doctor recommending special accommodations during her pregnancy.
Under California law, employers are also required to inform employees about all their rights under California law. If the woman is not able to complete her current physically strenuous job, then she must be informed about her right to request for a transfer to a less physically strenuous job during her pregnancy. Employees must make sure that a notice informing all employees about all their rights against pregnancy discrimination are posted in a place where all the employees are able to see the notice. The employee handbook must also include any information about pregnancy disability leave, and other pregnancy-related rights in the workplace.
Knowing about California’s laws as they relate to accommodations for pregnant women as well as other related issues is very important, because of the potential exposure to litigation.