Pregnancy Discrimination and Baby Bonding Leave Rights

Seeking justice for women who have been discriminated against because of their pregnancy is our passion. Pregnancy discrimination takes a variety of forms. It includes denial of temporary accommodations (such as accommodating work restrictions) up to being fired or laid off after the position is “eliminated.” Such discriminatory practices may stem, in part, from perceptions or stereotypes about the capacities and abilities of pregnant women. They may also be motivated by biases about pregnant women or mothers themselves, particularly those from certain racial, ethnic, or economic backgrounds. These types of discriminatory practices can have enormous economic and health consequences. Facing discrimination, including losing your job, at a time when you should be focused on the birth of your baby can also be emotionally devastating. Olivares Law is committed to helping you correct this injustice. Recent settlements for women who have faced discrimination because of their pregnancy are:

  • $825,000 settlement for pregnant employee who was terminated after an extended leave;
  • $650,000 settlement for a pregnant employee whose position was given to a male employee (employee obtained a higher paying job within six months of termination).

Leave Requirements

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), enforced by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), contains provisions guaranteeing leave for employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition (Pregnancy Disability Leave or PDL). PDL applies to all employers with five or more full or part-time employees. Other than having a qualifying pregnancy-related disability, there are no tenure, hours, other eligibility requirements, and full- and part-time employees are treated the same.

An employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition is entitled to up to four months of disability leave per pregnancy. If the employer provides more than four months of leave for other types of temporary disabilities, the same leave must be made available to employees who are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. PDL is available when an employee is actually disabled. This includes time off needed for prenatal or postnatal care, severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, loss or end of pregnancy, or any other related medical condition.

An employer may require an employee to use accrued sick leave during any unpaid portion of their pregnancy disability leave. The employee may also choose to use vacation leave or other accrued paid leave to receive compensation for which the employee is eligible, but an employer may not require an employee to use vacation leave or other accrued time off during PDL.

Baby Bonding Leave In Addition to PDL

In addition to PDL, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) requires employers of five or more employees to provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave to eligible employees to bond with a new child (by birth, adoption, or foster placement), to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or because the employee has a serious health condition. CFRA leave is not for pregnancy-related conditions, which are covered by PDL. Employees are entitled to take CFRA leave in addition to any leave entitlement related to pregnancy. CFRA leave taken to bond with a new child must be completed within one year of the birth, adoption, or foster placement.

The CFRA guarantees an employee, both male or female, who has been working at least a year for a company, the right to job-protected, 12 week, unpaid leave to care for a newborn or a newly adopted child.

Starting January 1, 2021, smaller employers (those with five or more employees) will be covered by the CFRA and required to provide this job-protected family and medical leave to their California employees. (SB 1383)

Right to Accommodations

Sometimes employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition are able to keep working with a reasonable accommodation. If such an employee requests a reasonable accommodation upon the advice of the employee’s health-care provider so that the employee can keep working, an employer must provide reasonable accommodation. An employee can request to transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position or modified duties because of the employee’s pregnancy related condition.

Contact Us About Your Pregnancy Discrimination Case

If you have experienced pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace, contact an attorney at Olivares Law, APC.