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Does My Employer Have to Accommodate My Pregnancy?


Pregnancy is a significant journey marked by various physical and emotional changes for women. In California, expectant mothers are protected by robust laws that mandate accommodations in the workplace to ensure their health and well-being during this crucial period. Understanding these rights is essential for expecting mothers and their employers to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in California

California law prohibits discrimination against pregnant employees under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This act mandates that employers with five or more employees provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant individuals.

Reasonable accommodations aim to ensure that pregnant employees can perform their job duties without jeopardizing their health or the health of their unborn child. These accommodations include adjustments to work duties, schedules, or environments necessary for the health and safety of the pregnant employee.

A few specific examples of reasonable accommodations may include the following:

  • Providing a stool or chair for a job that requires prolonged standing
  • Modifying work schedules for prenatal appointments
  • Granting additional restroom breaks
  • Providing a reserved parking space close to the workplace

Interactive Process: Engaging with Your Employer

When seeking accommodations, California law requires pregnant employees to engage in an interactive process with their employer. This process involves a constructive dialogue between the pregnant employee and their employer to identify and implement reasonable accommodations.

Employers are obligated to engage in this process in good faith, meaning they must actively participate and consider the employee's needs.

Legal Protections for Pregnant Employees

Under FEHA, it’s unlawful for employers to retaliate against pregnant employees who request accommodations. Retaliation may include adverse actions such as termination, demotion, or harassment. Pregnant employees have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) if they experience discrimination or retaliation in the workplace.

Temporary Disability Benefits

In addition to workplace accommodations, pregnant employees in California may be eligible for temporary disability benefits through the state's Disability Insurance (DI) program. These benefits provide partial wage replacement for employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy-related disabilities, such as complications or the need for bed rest.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) & the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

Pregnant employees in California may also be entitled to job-protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). FMLA and CFRA provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy-related medical conditions, childbirth, and bonding with a new child.

Seeking Legal Assistance

In California, pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. These accommodations are designed to ensure the health and safety of pregnant individuals while allowing them to continue performing their job duties. Understanding one's rights and engaging in an interactive process with employers is crucial for navigating pregnancy accommodations successfully.

If you believe your employer isn’t providing you with the accommodation you are entitled to receive by law, consult with an experienced employment law attorney. Our legal team at K2 Employment Law can provide the legal assistance you need during this time.

For more information, contact us online and request a free initial consultation.  

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