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Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers

Lawyers in El Segundo Representing Employees

Pregnant women should be able to continue working through their pregnancy. Unfortunately, reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers are sometimes denied. Unfortunately, pregnant workers are sometimes denied requests for temporary and reasonable changes to their workplace so that they can continue working through pregnancy. California law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. There is also some protection under federal law, though it’s not as strong. If you were denied reasonable accommodations because you were or are pregnant, contact Calderone Law Firm to speak with an El Segundo pregnancy discrimination attorney about your case.

Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination by employers with at least five employees based on a range of protected characteristics. Among the characteristics protected under FEHA is pregnancy. Assuming your employer is covered, FEHA requires it to provide you with a reasonable accommodation if you become unable to perform job duties or tasks because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related medical condition.

If and employer does not provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, they must be able to show that providing the accommodation would present an undue hardship. If you are denied a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy, you may be able to recover damages by bringing a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit under FEHA.

Your employer should not retaliate against you for requesting a reasonable accommodation or receiving one. In other words, you should not be subject to any punitive action for asking for an accommodation that would allow you to do your job while pregnant.

Protection Under Federal Law

You may also be able to get a reasonable accommodation under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act if your employer provides accommodations to workers who have temporary disabilities that aren’t caused by pregnancy. For example, if your employer allows a worker with pneumonia to work from home, it may need to let you work from home because you have preeclampsia. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act only applies to employers with at least fifteen employees.

Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers

Reasonable accommodations are any adjustments or alterations to the work environment or work schedule that allow you to keep working through your pregnancy. For example, if you suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum, which is severe morning sickness, you may need permission to come in later or to take more frequent breaks. If you have preeclampsia and need to be on bed rest, you may also need an accommodation that allows you to work from home until you deliver. Another change your employer might appropriately institute is temporarily reassigning more strenuous tasks to another worker; however, your employer should work with you to determine whether you need these accommodations, rather than make assumptions.

Generally, employers need to accommodate pregnancy and related medical conditions as much as they would accommodate other disabilities. An employer is required to look into all potential ways to reasonably accommodate you, but is not required to give you the exact accommodation you request if another one would be easier.

Potential accommodations for pregnancy and pregnancy-related disabilities include job restructuring, alterations to work hours, break schedule, ergonomic office furniture, job duties, work area, elimination of marginal job tasks, or assistive equipment. Another possible accommodation is leave.

Leave

It may be possible to get leave as a reasonable accommodation under FEHA. However, leave may be available under another law. Under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, you may be entitled to four months of pregnancy leave while suffering under a pregnancy-related disability. Leave may also be available under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

Damages

If you prevail in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit because your employer failed to reasonably accommodate you when it wouldn’t have posed an undue hardship to the employer to do so, you may be entitled to compensation. Damages may include back pay, lost wages, pain and suffering. If an employer’s misconduct was egregious, you may be able to recover punitive damages. These are damages awarded in order to deter similar wrongdoing in the future and punish the employer.

Consult a Seasoned Attorney in El Segundo

Your employer should take your request for a reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy seriously and work with you to figure out what would help you do your job. If you were denied a reasonable accommodation as a pregnant worker in El Segundo, you should consult a lawyer. At the Calderone Law Firm, our attorneys may be able to counsel and represent you. Please call us at (424) 348-8290 or complete our online form.