If an employee is experiencing pregnancy complications, it may not be enough to provide four months of leave under California’sLaw (PDLL). For practical purposes, four months is the minimum leave employers are required to provide. You may owe more time off under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), as long as it doesn’t create an undue hardship on your business operations.
Recent case: Ana, employed by air-cargo supplier Swissport, had a high-risk pregnancy. Her doctor said she needed long periods of bed rest, which made it impossible for her to work. She asked for time off until her scheduled delivery and told Swissport she expected to return to work shortly after she gave birth. Her doctor didn’t anticipate long-term problems that would delay her return.
However, Swissport terminated Ana after she took off about 20 weeks, including accrued vacation time and leave mandated by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the PDLL. No one called Ana or made any other effort to see when she might return or whether she might need more time off as a reasonable accommodation.
She sued, contending she was entitled to more leave under FEHA.
Swissport argued that it didn’t have any obligation to provide more leave for a pregnant woman than the PDLL required.
The court disagreed. Essentially, it said that if another law provided, it picked up where the PDLL left off. In Ana’s case, that might be the disability provisions in FEHA, which require reasonable accommodations for known disabilities. If granting more time off would not create undue hardship for Swissport, then an employee who had exhausted PDLL leave might be entitled to more time off. Ana’s case will go to trial. (Sanchez v. Swissport, No. B237761, Court of Appeal of California, 2013)
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