Does your job require you to work more than eight hours a day? Does your job require you to work outside in the sun? Are you required to stand for long periods of time, walk constantly, perform heavy lifting, or require repetitive bending? Does your job expose you to harmful toxins? Are you worried about your job security because you are currently pregnant and not able to perform these tasks? If so, you should know that there are laws that protect you while you are pregnant.
Pregnancy discrimination falls under the same category as gender discrimination. Therefore, your boss cannot fire you for simply being pregnant. Pregnancy must be treated like any other medical disability or employee condition. Therefore, it is illegal to fire an employee for taking time off during business hours to attend pregnancy-related medical appointments so long as you give ample notice of your appointments whenever possible.
Are you afraid of getting terminated because you are not able to show up to work like you normally would due to pregnancy-related issues? Normally, an employer can fire you for frequent absences or tardiness. However, if morning sickness or other pregnancy-related conditions are causing you to miss work, you should get a doctor’s note indicating your pregnancy is the cause. Under Government Code § 12945(a)(3)(A), your employer cannot refuse to provide accommodations to you as instructed by your doctor for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Further, pursuant to Government Code § 12945, you have the right to ask your employer to transfer you to a less strenuous or less hazardous job or undertake more light duty assignments while you are pregnant. It is against the law for an employer to deny a pregnant worker’s request for a transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position. Examples of these accommodations may be allowing you to sit in a chair while you perform your job duties, moving you from direct sunshine to a shaded environment, or even temporarily changing your role to one that performs lighter duties such as administrative tasks in lieu of your regular ones during your pregnancy term. However, with that being said, the accommodation must be reasonable. It doesn’t mean that your boss is required to open a new position or transfer existing employees to accommodate your pregnancy. The accommodation should not impose an unreasonable burden on your employer.
On a related matter, if you have had a failed pregnancy and express the intent to continue to try getting pregnant, it is illegal for your employer to fire you simply based on the fact that you are trying to get pregnant. It is against the law for employers to fire employees in the anticipation that they will be taking time off as a result of family planning. On the same note, terminating someone for taking time off to undergo in vitro fertilization is also illegal. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated during the time of your pregnancy, please call an experienced employment law firm, such as Stevens & McMillan.