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Fired After Requesting More Than Four Months For Pregnancy Leave

Ana Fuentes Sanchez was hired by Swissport, Inc., to clean airplanes in 2007. She was fired two years later after taking 19 weeks off because of pregnancy-related complications. That included all of her unused vacation time as well as the four months she was allowed for leave under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL).

Fuentes Sanchez fought back and filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Swissport for failing to accommodate her pregnancy-related disability. A California Appeals Court agreed with her – the four month leave period set out in the PDLL does not define the extent to which an employer must go to accommodate pregnancy-related disabilities. An employer must still work with an employee to provide reasonable accommodations that would allow an expectant or new mother to continue work or to extend leave beyond the four months required by law.

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) requires an employer to allow a new or expectant mother to take up to four months of medical leave as needed. But, when a pregnancy-related or childbirth-related condition requires an expectant or new mother to take more time off than the allotted four months, an employer cannot simply fire her for taking too much time.

California’s Fair Employment And Housing Act (FEHA) disallows discrimination on the basis of a pregnancy-related condition. Firing a female employee because she needs or has taken more than four months of leave, without attempting to accommodate her needs, is a violation of the anti-pregnancy discrimination piece of FEHA.

Source: SF Gate, “Pregnancy discrimination suit reinstated,” February 25, 2013

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