Pregnancy is a joyful time in a woman’s life when she prepares for the birth of her new child.  It is also a time when she takes time off from work as her pregnancy progresses, and also when it comes time to bond with her new-born baby.   If the woman is a resident of California, she can avail herself of one or more of the protected leaves of absence provided for under State and/or Federal laws.  California is one of the states with many laws providing for leave for pregnant women.  Should the employer balk at allowing her to take leave, she can take comfort in knowing there are laws that protect her against discrimination.

Pregnancy Disability Leave.  In California, pregnancy is considered a disability.Thus, women who work for companies with even as few as 5 employees a can avail of up to 4 months of job-protected Pregnancy Disability Leave.  Moreover, given their special condition, pregnant women may also arrange for reasonable accommodations in the workplace.  These may include reduced workload or more frequent trips to the bathroom.  And while on leave, women can still enjoy health insurance coverage.

Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)/California Family Rights Act (CFRA). These laws allow women to take 12 weeks of job-protected leave sin order to bond with their new baby. You should note that there are certain eligibility requirements and not all companies are mandated to provide this benefit. To be eligible, the pregnant woman must be employed in a company with 50 or more employees and should have rendered a minimum number of hours of work in the last preceding 12 month period.

Breastfeeding Accommodation Statutes. Employed mothers have the right to break time and a private space to express breast milk for their babies. Federal and California State laws protect a woman’s right to lactation accommodations. In California, all employers must provide breastfeeding mothers with break time and reasonable accommodations. The space should be private and not accessible to outsiders, yet it must be close to the mother’s work station.  The company must set aside a conducive place for the breastfeeding area; the ladies’ room simply will not do.

Should  a woman be discriminated upon or harassed because of her pregnancy,  there is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), which  prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee for becoming pregnant or requesting leave associated with pregnancy. If the employer refuses to grant a woman leave because of her pregnancy, she may consult with an employment attorney.

California has some of the strongest laws to protect pregnant women.  Still, women must have knowledge of these laws in order to protect themselves.  If employers prove to be difficult, women can use the help of an experienced employment attorney.

Contact our law firm today if you have an employment law dispute.

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