Women should not be discouraged from pursuing their dream of having a family while also maintaining their career. There are laws in place that provide security for women who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related medical conditions. While laws are in place, women should be familiar with their employee rights and have the phone number of an Employment Lawyer handy to ensure these rights are enforced. Below are a few things women may not have known about their pregnancy and the way pregnancy interacts with employment laws.
1. Pregnancy is considered as protected
There are employment laws in California that strive to create equal opportunity in the workplace for all employees. More specifically, the employment laws prohibit any kind of adverse treatment towards employees because of their religious beliefs, age, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, veteran or military status, and pregnancy. The law recognizes that employees come from all different walks of life and those differences should not welcome negative treatment when it comes to employment opportunities or a current employee’s work environment.
Whether the individual is a current employee or an applicant, if they fall under one of those categories and they are treated adversely based on the fact or even the presumption that he or she belongs to one of those classes, it is considered as illegal. Using pregnancy as an example, if a woman is denied employment or is terminated from her current position because she is pregnant or is terminated because of a pregnancy-related reason, this may be considered as unlawful behavior. In that example, if the employee wanted to pursue legal proceeding in the matter, she would likely hire an Employment Lawyer to sue her employer for discrimination and possibly wrongful termination.
Keep in mind that all employees in California are considered at-will employees. This means that an employer can fire an employee or let them go for any reason or for no reason at all, just as long as it is not for an illegal reason. Basically, a boss is permitted to fire any of their employees at whatever time or for whatever reason, even if they just decide he or she doesn’t like the person. In contrast, if an employer tells an employee “this job is not for someone in your condition. Pregnant women are too emotional”, this may engage discrimination laws and give rise to a suit against the employer.
Now, we know that it is considered unlawful behavior for an employer to terminate an employee based on an illegal reason, but an employee will need to show that the termination and the discrimination are connected. For instance, an employee who has falsified her time card and then claims she is fired due to her pregnancy may not have a claim for discrimination. The sole reason for the termination needs to be based on an illegal reason. In this example, the employer may be able to claim that the reason for termination was based on the dishonest behavior of the employee.
An Employment Lawyer may be able to advise an individual on their employee rights should they feel as though they were discriminated against for pregnancy or for anything pregnancy-related.
2. You may be entitled to time off
In California, an employee may be entitled to certain rights for a pregnancy disability leave. This means that an employee who is pregnant and is rendered disabled in some way, temporally or permanently, may be entitled to a pregnancy disability leave from work. The law requires that if an employee qualifies for a pregnancy disability leave, they are entitled to up to four months of leave. The employee’s doctor may make a specific recommendation of how much time the employee needs off to recover, but regardless, the employee is entitled to up to four months. An employer or organization that fails to comply with that law may be vulnerable to a lawsuit against them for violating the rights of the employee.
Not only is the employer required to provide a qualified employee with up to four months of a pregnancy disability leave, but the employee is also entitled to take up to four months leave sporadically. In other words, an employee who is entitled to pregnancy disability leave may take up to four months of leave but it does not need to be taken consecutively.
In addition to the four months leave for pregnancy or for medical conditions that are pregnancy-related, an employee may also qualify for leave under different laws in California that recognize particular injuries or medical conditions. These additional laws also obligate employers to provide time off for an employee, should they have any additional medical conditions. Of course, these laws can be complicated, therefore an employee would need to contact an Employment Lawyer to find out if the additional leave is available to that individual in particular.
3. Taking a pregnancy leave does not mean you lose your position
Normally if an employee takes medical leave, there are certain aspects of the law that do not require the employer to reinstate an employee back to their original position. However, if an employee takes pregnancy leave, the employer is obligated by the law to reinstate that employee back to their original position. For example, if Suzy was a manager and took a pregnancy leave, upon her return, her boss could not tell her that she was being demoted to a junior manager position. Every case is different though so it is important to run the facts of a case by an Employment Lawyer.
4. You may not be guaranteed paid leave
A common concern employees have when taking a pregnancy leave is whether they will be paid while they are on leave. The answer is that it just depends. Each employee’s circumstances are different but there are certain possibilities available for an employee to take a paid leave. One possibility may be if the employer has a company policy that says they pay employees who take a disability leave.