Pregnant During COVID-19 – Know Your Rights

October 28, 2020

2020 has been one of the most uncertain times. Finding ways to live through this pandemic has been especially difficult because not much is known about COVID-19. Even less is known about its effects on pregnant women. Luckily, if you are pregnant and working during this time, the law affords you certain rights. Below is some helpful information about a pregnant woman’s employee rights. The more you know, the better equipped you and your family will be to make the best decisions for your growing family.

You cannot be fired or have your hours cut because you are pregnant during COVID-19.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and laws in California protect pregnant women from discrimination due to pregnancy. Under these laws, you cannot be treated differently from other employees simply because you are pregnant. If your employer has treated other employees different than you have been treated, it could be an indication that you have be discriminated against due to pregnancy. It is important to have an experienced attorney review the specific facts in your situation to see if there is evidence to support that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination.

Also, because proving pregnancy discrimination naturally entails some form of court intervention, there are other options you may take while you wait. Under the laws in California, you can receive unemployment insurance. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act may also provide some assistance.

Reasonable Accommodations

If you are pregnant and working during the COVID-10 pandemic, you may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs employers who have more than 15 employees. Under the ADA, you have the right to a reasonable accommodation at work if you have a pregnancy-related impairment or disability.

Similarly, California provides protections under the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for employer who have five or more employees. It requires that you also be provided reasonable accommodations when appropriate.

Pregnancy-related impairment or disability. Under the ADA, pregnancy-related impairments or disabilities include gestational diabetes, severe respiratory issues, and other pregnancy-related disabilities that substantially limit a major life activity. Also, any issues that your doctor may find that puts you at greater risk of severe illness if you contract COVID-19 may also qualify as a pregnancy-related impairment.

Reasonable accommodations. Under the ADA, a reasonable accommodation is any change to the application, hiring process, or to the way the job is done. While an employer must make a reasonable accommodation, the accommodation cannot cause “undue hardship” to the employer.
The employee must still be able to perform the essential job functions that are fundamental to the position. Because the essential job functions will differ depending on the job, reasonable accommodations come in many forms. Some examples of reasonable accommodations can include:

- Making changes to your workplace to reduce contact with others;
- Allowing for a flexible work schedule, such as modified hours to staggering commute times;
- Temporarily changing job tasks;
- Telework.

Contact an Employment Attorney

Perhaps you are concerned about contracting COVID-19 while pregnant and would just like to take an extended leave of absence. However, you would still like to have maternity leave benefits. The Family and Medical Leave Act may provide up to 12 weeks of leave, although unpaid. Whether you may be entitled to additional leave after birth relies on the Pregnancy Disability Act and other California protections like the California Family Rights Act.

Perhaps you have requested a reasonable accommodation and have been told that you cannot be accommodated. Whatever the situation may be, employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak are available to speak with you about your legal rights and potential options. We invite you to schedule a consultation with us at 415-693-0300 or online.

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