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Leigh Law Group – Protecting Your Rights
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What happens to my workplace rights if I get pregnant?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Employment Law

When you get pregnant, it changes everything. It can be physically challenging. It can mean a lot of doctor’s appointments. It’s the beginning of an expensive time in your life. You’re full of emotions, hopes and dreams.

The last thing you need is to lose your job.

Luckily, pregnancy discrimination is illegal under both California and federal law. That means more than that a company can’t fire you or refuse to hire you because you’re pregnant, although that is true.

It also includes a requirement that your employer make reasonable accommodations for any pregnancy-related disability you may experience. It requires your employer to provide leave for birth and bonding with the child. And, employers must make an appropriate, private space available to allow you to pump your breast milk.

You should be aware that your rights depend in part on your employment situation. You are entitled to pregnancy protections as long as you work for an employer with five or more employees. And, some rights depend on your having worked at least 12 months and 1,250 hours with your current employer.

I have restrictions due to my pregnancy. Does my employer have to allow them?

Yes. If it is still possible for you to perform the core functions of your job, your employer must provide a reasonable accommodation that will allow you to continue working. They don’t have to give you exactly the accommodation you request, but it must be comparable to what is offered to employees with disabilities.

Examples of reasonable accommodations that might be required include:

  • Less strenuous duties
  • Use of a chair or stool
  • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous job
  • Longer or more frequent breaks
  • Additional time off

If you are not able to perform your job due to a pregnancy-related disability, your employer must provide up to four months of pregnancy disability leave (PDL) per pregnancy. This leave is on top of any other leave that you are entitled to under California law, a local ordinance or your employer’s leave policy. You are eligible for PDL as long as you have a pregnancy disability and your employer employs five or more people.

You do not have to take all of your PDL in a single block. You can take it intermittently, or as needed. However, you are entitled to take it all at once, if you prefer.

Your job is protected during PDL, as it is during family and medical leave. That means your employer must hold your job open for you or provide you with a comparable job upon your return. You could still be laid off while you’re on PDL.

Additionally, you will continue to be covered by your employer’s group insurance coverage while you are on PDL.

Is PDL paid?

Not necessarily. It depends on your employer’s policy toward other types of temporary disability. If your employer pays employees for temporary disability leave, it must treat your PDL the same. You may also be eligible for pay if a local ordinance requires paid family leave. Your employer may require you to use up your sick and vacation time before granting PDL.

Can taking PDL hurt my career?

Not legally. It is illegal for employers to make employment-related decisions based on your having taken family leave or PDL.  This includes firing you, demoting you, or taking away seniority, for example.

If you have other questions about pregnancy in the workplace, an experienced employment law attorney can help.

Leigh Law Group represents workers in all sorts of discrimination and accommodation cases in California.