Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting experiences of a woman’s life. It’s full of prenatal visits, decorating, showers, and anticipation. When you’re pregnant the last thing you should have to worry about is your job.
Unfortunately, when some employers find out you are pregnant they are less than enthusiastic. They don’t want you to take a leave of absence. Some companies don’t want a “pregnant employee” because it doesn’t fit their company image or brand. Some companies are even worse, they flat out fire pregnant women, and claim that the employee had a ‘bad attitude’ or ‘missed too much work.’
If you want to understand what leave you are entitled to when you are pregnant, have a child, or become disabled because of your pregnancy, our firm can help. If you’ve been fired, denied leave, or otherwise discriminated against because you are pregnant you may have a legal case against your company.
Pregnancy Discrimination Verdict
Branigan Robertson recently obtained a $538,000 verdict for Kimberly Perry in Orange County Superior Court. Ms. Perry was fired after she delivered a stillborn child. To learn more about the case, click here. To learn more about pregnancy discrimination and maternity leave, keep reading below.
Pregnancy Lawyer – Complicated Law
Most people are happy for you when they find out you are pregnant. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the bad side of bosses when they find out. Some are determined to get rid of you. Many people want to know what their rights are, but often the law is too complicated to figure out on your own. If you just found out that you are pregnant and want to know how to handle it with work, call our lawyers today. While we cannot promise you that we will give advice on how to handle your situation, we will be happy to give you a free consultation and hear your story.
California and Federal law authorize you to take up to a total of twelve workweeks of leave with employer-paid health benefits for the birth of a child and to care for that child. This leave is job-protected; meaning your employer must hold your position open until you return.
This leave is an absolute right, meaning if you meet the requirements for a leave, the leave must be granted. But you may be terminated if you are unable to return to work after the twelve weeks of leave (exceptions exist).
This leave does not include pregnancy-related or childbirth-related disabilities. An employee who is disabled on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is entitled to take Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). That is a separate discussion from maternity leave.
To learn more information about maternity leave, visit our maternity leave page.
FMLA – Family Medical Leave Act
Who is eligible to take Family Medical Leave Act/California Family Rights Act leave?
- If you have been employed for a total of at least twelve months on the date on which your leave is to commence, AND
- you have physically worked for at least 1,250 hours during the previous twelve-month period, AND
- you have been employed at a worksite where your employer employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
During leave, your employer must maintain your coverage under any employee’s group health benefit plan subject to payment of premiums. You may make arrangements with your employer to continue other benefits, such as life insurance. Moreover, your right to retirement benefits is protected in that the period of unpaid leave is not treated as a break in service.
An employer must continue coverage not only for you but also for your family members, if they were covered before your leave began.
Additionally, your employer must provide you with all sorts of notices, you have to provide notice to your employer, you probably have to provide medical certification of your pregnancy to your employer, and your employer must keep medical information relating to family and medical leaves confidential.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Maternity leave is a long and complex topic that changes constantly. Employers consistently mess maternity leave up. This often results in unwanted litigation.
If you believe your leave of absence has been interfered with, restrained, manipulated, or denied improperly, or if you are fired, discharged, or discriminated against for opposing an unlawful practice, you may have a valid legal claim against your employer.
FMLA & CFRA are not limited to only maternity leave. There are several other reasons why someone may take FMLA or CFRA. To learn more, click here.
Pregnancy Disability Leave or Reasonable Accommodation
What if you are having a difficult pregnancy, and need to use all of your ‘maternity leave’ before you even give birth because your doctor has put you on bed rest? What if your pregnancy disables you? In this case, see our section on Pregnancy Disability Leave.
If you have a disability due to your pregnancy, your employer may be required to reasonably accommodate you as well as provide you with a leave of absence. Here is a common scenario for at-risk pregnancies; if your job requires you to regularly lift objects that weigh 15lbs but then your doctor restricts you from lifting or pulling anything over 10lbs, your employer may be required to temporarily exempt you from lifting that weight for the duration of your pregnancy.
While our office is located in Orange County, we serve clients throughout California. Contact a labor lawyer as soon as you feel like your rights have been violated. If you think you need an employment attorney’s advice, don’t wait as the statute of limitations to ruin your case if you wait too long.