If you are a California woman who has concerns about starting a family because of possible implications for your career, you are not alone. Women frequently fear that they will not be allowed to compete in the workplace due to pregnancy and the responsibilities of raising a family. The truth is, women are guaranteed protections in America so that in this day and age, they do not have to choose between a vibrant, rewarding career and having a baby.
- Protections against discrimination;
- Accommodations for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women;
- Time off that is protected for disability due to pregnancy, necessary prenatal care, and time to bond with the baby;
- Partial pay for a limited time taken from work;
- Opportunities for flexible scheduling to accommodate caregiving.
State and federal laws prohibit discriminatory treatment toward pregnant employees with regard to hiring and firing, salaries and benefits, and promotions or demotions. Women may not be forced to take an extended pregnancy leave; nor may they be expected to tolerate a hostile environment due to their pregnancy.
Women may expect the same modifications to the workday that any other worker with a disabling condition expects when a health care provider prescribes them. This may include lifting restrictions, limits on standing, avoiding exposure to toxins, frequent breaks, temporary reassignments, or other accommodations.
Upon returning to work, lactating women may require additional accommodations. Federal and state laws stipulate that reasonable break times must be provided in a private location (other than a bathroom) in order for breastfeeding women to express milk. Furthermore, the laws prohibit discrimination or retaliation against lactating employees.
Job-Protected Leave and Wage Replacement
If an employer has at least five employees, federal law allows for as much as four months of unpaid leave for those employees, during which time health care benefits must continue to be available. Women must be ensured that they may return to their jobs or to similar positions within the company following this leave. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides an additional 12 weeks of protected leave in order to bond with a child. This leave is available to non-birth parents as well, under certain conditions:
- The employer has at least 50 employees;
- The individual has worked for the employer for a minimum of one year and logged in at least 1250 hours.
Employees who are new parents may be entitled to six weeks of partial wages (55%) following the one-week waiting period in order to bond with a child during the child’s first year of life.
California’s State Disability Insurance
Workers who contribute to a State Disability Insurance (SDI) fund are eligible for 55% of their wages following a one-week waiting period if they experience temporary disabilities related to pregnancy or childbirth.
The SF Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance gives employees the right to request predictable schedules or flexible work times in order to accommodate family care. If there are bona fide reasons to deny such requests, they must be provided by the employer in writing.
Know Your Rights
Pregnant workers and their partners are afforded specific protections by both federal and California law. If your employer is not protecting your rights, contact HKM. Our team will fight for justice on your behalf. Contact our LA office today for a consultation.