Pregnant workers who request temporary accommodations are still being put on unpaid leave or fired prior to childbirth, according to a report recently released from the National Women's Law Center and A Better Balance. The requests for accommodation that are triggering employers to wrongfully terminate pregnant workers are somewhat shocking in how simply the requests could be met without firing the employee, such as additional bathroom breaks, the ability to drink water throughout a shift or simply to sit rather than stand while working.
For some reason, employers are more willing to accommodate permanent disabilities rather than short term disabilities that may come along with a pregnancy. For pregnant women in the workforce, the choice between a healthy pregnancy and a paying job should not have to be made. Both options can and should be able to coexist.
California actually leads the 50 states in protections for pregnant workers by providing pregnancy disability leave. However, workers in all 50 states are protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
California law provides up to four months of job-protected leave for a disability caused by pregnancy. If your employer offers greater protections - such as additional leave time - for other workers with a short term or temporary disability, a pregnant worker is entitled to the same protections. The four months can be taken before or after childbirth, whenever the employee is disabled by a pregnancy-related condition.
If you take pregnancy disability leave in California, you may - but you are not required to - take any unused vacation time or sick leave to cover the loss of pay during the time you are not working.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Pregnant workers often fired or made to take unpaid leave, report says," June 18, 2013