If you’re working and are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, it’s important that you understand your rights to accommodation under federal and California laws. These laws cover almost all California workers, and they require that employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees or employees affected by pregnancy.
A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment to how a job is performed that allows a worker to do the essential job functions despite a disability. For a disabled worker, examples of reasonable accommodations might include providing specialized equipment, altered or different work schedules, or even transfer to a lateral, vacant position for which an employee is qualified.
Unfortunately, lower-level supervisors do not always understand these legal requirements. Too often, a pregnant woman is rebuffed when she approaches her supervisor with requests like the following:
- Allowing her to sit on a stool while she operates a cash register;
- Permitting her to take more frequent restroom breaks;
- Reducing the length of her shift;
- Limiting the amount of her overtime; and
- Flexible use of leave time.
California law provides more rights to pregnant employees than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Under California law, if an employee gives proper notice of her need for an accommodation and her request is properly supported by her health care provider, her employer must provide an accommodation so long as it is reasonable. This law applies to all employers with five or more employees. Examples of accommodations include those listed above and also a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position.
And under California law, employees who are disabled due to their pregnancies or pregnancy-related medical conditions have special rights relating to time off. Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and with proper physician support, they may take up to four months of leave, known as “pregnancy disability leave.” The exact amount of leave available depends on the employee’s normal work schedule.
If you’re not sure about your rights to reasonable accommodation, contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or an experienced employment lawyer in Modesto.
Sacramento, CA 95821