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Employment Law: Pregnancy Discrimination Accommodations

Last month, a California Court of Appeal voted yes on Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc. a case where a California woman was terminated for being unable to return to her job after a 19 week pregnancy disability leave.  The case is a “wake-up” call of sorts for employers to understand that simply complying with California pregnancy disability laws is not necessarily enough.   It is unlawful in California for employers to discriminate in hiring, providing for leave, benefits or other conditions of employment due to pregnancy.  Contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer, if you believe you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination.

According to CalLaborLaw.com, the court held that an employer’s providing of the 16 weeks of leave for pregnancy disability does not automatically shield the employer from claims for failure to accommodate a disability or for gender/pregnancy discrimination under FEHA. The court reasoned that an extended leave of absence (beyond 16 weeks of pregnancy disability leave) may be a “reasonable accommodation” for a disability required under FEHA, and that Swissport may have been required to provide the additional leave time absent a showing of undue hardship.  The case was, therefore, remanded to the trial court level so that the employee’s FEHA claims could be litigated.

It is important for employers to understand the employee’s needs for any additional time needed after the expiration of their leave, rather than face the possibility of facing claims due to disability discrimination.  Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and should not be treated less favorably.

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