California laws provide employees who are pregnant or suffering from a medical condition (physical condition or mental health condition) to take a leave of absence, to receive job protection during the leave of absence, and protection from retaliation.
These laws also provide protection from discrimination and retaliation for employees who act as caregivers for a parent, child, or another close relative who is suffering from a medical condition (physical condition or mental health condition).
Pregnancy Disability Leave
If an employee is “disabled” by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, the employee is entitled under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave law (“PDL”) to take a leave for a reasonable period of time not to exceed four months and thereafter return to work. Cal. Gov. Code § 12945(a). A “related medical condition” is defined as “any medically recognized physical or mental condition that is related to pregnancy or childbirth...” 2 Cal. Code Reg. 7291.2.
If an employer grants an employee pregnancy disability leave or transfer, “the employer shall guarantee to reinstate the employee to the same position, or to a comparable position.” If the employee requests the guarantee in writing, the employer must provide the writing to the employee. It is unlawful for an employer to refuse to reinstate the employee, unless an exception applies. 2 Cal. Code Reg. 7291.9.
The employee does need to take the four months leave all at one or in one block, the employee's “leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced work schedule when medically advisable, as determined by the health care provider of the employee.” 2 Cal. Code Reg. 7291.7. For example, the employee can use the leave to work only three or four days a week and the days the employee does not work will be subtracted from the overall four month maximum allowed.
An employer must also provide “reasonable accommodation for an employee for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, if she so requests, with the advice of her health care provider.” 2 Cal. Code Reg. 7291.6.
If an employee wishes to request a PDL leave or transfer from her employer, the employee must give either written or verbal notice “sufficient to make the employer aware that the employee needs a pregnancy disability leave or transfer, and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave or transfer.” 2 Cal. Code Reg. 7291.10(a).
Medical Disability Leave
The California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides employees “a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period” for one or more of the following reasons:
- Birth of a son or daughter of the employee, in order to care for the son or daughter.
- To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee if the spouse, son, daughter, or parent has a serious health condition. 29 USCS § 2612. “To care for” includes physical and psychological care. 29 Code Fed. Reg. 825.124(a).
- The employee is unable to perform the functions of their job because of a serious health condition. 29 USCS § 2612(a)(1)(A)-(D).
Under FMLA an employee is not required to take their leave of absence all at one time. The employee is allowed to take the leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule. Intermittent leave is leave taken “in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason.” A reduced leave schedule is “a leave schedule that reduces an employee's usual number of working hours per workweek, or hours per workday. A reduced leave schedule is a change in the employee’s schedule for a period of time, normally from full-time to part-time.” 29 Code Fed. Reg. 825.202(a).
For an employee to receive leave covered under FMLA from his or her employer, the employee must give the employer notice, either verbal or written. 29 Code Fed. Reg. 825.302. The employee's notice must let the employee know the reason for the leave that is covered by FMLA. 29 Code Fed. Reg. 825.302. The notice must also contain the timing and duration the employee anticipates the leave to take up. 29 Code Fed. Reg. 825.302.
When an employee comes back from FMLA leave they are entitled to be reinstated by the employer to their same position or an equivalent position. 29 USCS § 2614. The equivalent position is to have “equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.” 29 USCS § 2614.
Examples of Leave of Absence Violations
Harassment and Write-Ups by Employer: After an employee informed her manager that she is pregnant, her manager:
- Becomes more critical of the employee’s work performance than before;
- Assigns the employee more difficult assignments and challenges that the employee’s coworkers do not have to perform;
- Writes up the employee when she is unable to perform the more difficult assignment;
- Requires the employee to work overtime or on one of her times off, knowing that the employee is scheduled for medical care during her time off;
- Tells the employee that her pregnancy will cause her to be unable to do the job;
- Deliberately finds ways to make the employee feel uncomfortable by asking personal and intrusive questions about what is happening to the employee’s body due to the pregnancy.
Failure Or Refusal to Acknowledge Pregnancy by Employer: After an employee informed her manager that she is pregnant, her manager ignores this information and does nothing to inform the employee about her rights to request a leave of absence.
Contact Sani Law Today
If you believe your employer has failed to provide you a pregnancy or medical leave of absence, or that your employer has discrimination or retaliated against you for requesting or taking a pregnancy or medical leave of absence, Call Sani Law or contact Sani Law today. We will aggressively pursue all damages that you are owed from employers who do not follow the law.