The California Fair Employment and Housing Act explicitly prohibits employers from firing harassing, demoting, terminating, or otherwise discriminating against any employee for becoming pregnant, or for requesting or taking pregnancy leave. The Act applies to all employers that regularly employed 5or more full-time employees in the preceding year.

If you are subjected to unlawful harassment or discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, you may be entitled to recover damages for emotional distress, lost wages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

In addition, the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”) requires California employers to provide up to 4months of leave for employees actually disabled by pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. This leave can be taken all at once or intermittently. It is important to note that California’s PDLL requires California employers to provide up to 4months of leave for employees actually disabled by pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions even if the employer’s policies do not grant employees suffering from other short-term disabilities a similar amount of leave. In other words, unlike the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Law (“PDL”), California’s PDLL requires that California employers give pregnant workers special, rather than simply equal treatment.

In California, once the employee has given birth she may be entitled to an additional 12 weeks of leave “for the reason of the birth of a child” under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), which is California’s version of the FMLA. Entitlement to CFRA leave for birth of a child depends on, (1) whether the employer employs more than 50 employees within a seventy-five mile radius; and (2) whether the employee worked more than 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the first day of the requested CFRA leave or any pregnancy disability leave; and (3) whether the employee has more than 1 year of service with the employer.

CFRA leave may also be taken for adopting, or bonding with a child. “Baby bonding leave” may be taken immediately following a pregnancy disability leave or at any time within 12 months of the baby’s birth. Theoretically, if an employee has a difficult pregnancy, she may be entitled to up to 4 months of Pregnancy Disability Leave (“PDL”), then an additional 12 weeks of “baby bonding” leave once she recovers from her pregnancy-related disability. In other words, a woman disabled by pregnancy who then gives birth may take up to 7 consecutive months of job-protected leave.

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