Can your employer make you choose between your job and your baby?

No matter what job you have, there are certain laws regulating your rights as an employee. Many workplace disputes are related to personality clashes or personal preferences. However, employers have certain obligations to their employees.

Pregnancy should not affect your job, nor should it affect the way you are treated in your workplace. But in some cases, employers do not adhere to the laws which are supposed to protect your baby, forcing you to make a choice: your career, or your child?

Disputes arise at the Department of Corrections

Reports suggest that the California Department of Corrections (DOC) does not provide legally-required accommodations for pregnant prison guards. According to a recent lawsuit, pregnant correctional officers must choose between having a safe, comfortable pregnancy and maintaining their rank, losing their certification and compromising future employment opportunities.

In 2015, the DOC abandoned its policy which accommodated pregnant women on their staff. But is the refusal to modify assignments for pregnant workers legal?

What are your employer’s obligations to you?

Your employer cannot legally interfere with your pregnancy-related employment rights, according to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. They also may not discriminate against or harass you because of your pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Instead, if you are pregnant, your employer must:

  • Allow you to transfer to a less stressful position, if medically necessary
  • Accommodate your medical needs, which may include allowing you to sit while you work, allowing additional breaks or modifying your duties
  • Allow you up to four months of pregnancy disability leave without demotion

Then, following the birth of your child, your employer must allow you time and a private place to pump breast milk.

You can hold your employer accountable

If you face concerns related to pregnancy discrimination in your workplace, an attorney experienced in California and federal employment laws can determine whether you have a case. If you do, they can help you decide what action you would like to take to protect your interests, as well as your unborn child.


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