Then-President Woodrow Wilson declared Mothers Day a national holiday in the United States in 1914. Although the U.S. holiday is not yet 100 years old, protections for mothers in the workplace have come a long way since the presidential action of setting aside one day a year to honor mothers throughout our country.
Before motherhood comes pregnancy. Thanks to several federal and California laws, pregnancy can no longer be used as a reason not to hire or to fire an expectant mother. Pregnancy discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and related EEOC regulations.
In California, the FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) protects the right of pregnant women to:
- Disability leave before and/or after the birth of a child
- Return to a job within four months of taking leave
- Request a transfer to a less stressful or strenuous position during pregnancy
- Medical insurance coverage of pregnancy-related expenses
Expecting mothers are also entitled to reasonable accommodation in their work duties as recommended by a physician.
California’s State Disability Insurance (SDI) program allows for a new or expectant mother to receive two-thirds of her average weekly pay, up to a certain limit, while she is considered disabled. A new or expectant mother may also be eligible for disability pay under her employer’s own plan.
When a mother returns to work, she is guaranteed the right under California law to a break period during her workday for lactation purposes.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as well as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) govern a mother’s right to take time off work related to the birth or adoption of a child without having to worry that she will be terminated from her position or demoted upon return.