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Understand your rights as a pregnant employee

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2024 | Employment Law

Failing to allow a pregnant employee reasonable accommodations is effectively a form of gender discrimination – only women can become pregnant.

California has strict laws that most employers must abide by to ensure that pregnant women can continue to do their jobs for as long as possible.

The laws apply to most employers

Does your employer employ more than five people? Provided they do, the law requires them to make reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy. This could include:

  • Altering your hours
  • Allowing you more or longer breaks 
  • Providing you with a means to sit, even if you normally stand
  • Reducing the need for you to do manual lifting or other strenuous or dangerous tasks
  • Providing facilities and time for you to pump breast milk

If you need other accommodations, your employer should facilitate them, provided the accommodations are reasonable. What is reasonable can be hard to define, so you may need to do some negotiating. The law generally expects more from a large employer than a small one because they can more easily make and fund such provisions without too much disruption to the business. 

It pays to be proactive

While the law expects employers to make provisions and have a certain amount of knowledge about what they must do to help you, it does not expect them to be mind readers. Each pregnant employee’s needs will differ, so going to your boss with a plan for what you need rather than waiting for them to offer it to you is wise.

That said, sometimes telling your boss you are pregnant can feel daunting, and some employers may not want to meet their responsibilities. If this is the case, you may want legal advice.