An employer must allow an employee who is disabled on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition to take a leave for a reasonable period of time while actually disabled, up to a maximum of four (4) months per pregnancy.
It is unlawful for an employer to deny, retaliate, or terminate an employee for taking pregnancy disability leave. Similarly, it is unlawful for an employer to fail to reinstate an employee returning from pregnancy disability leave. If an employee is terminated, retaliated against, or not reinstated after pregnancy disability leave, she may be entitled to damages. Damages may include lost wages, future wage loss, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages. Additionally, some cases may require the employer to pay punitive damages to the employee if the employer’s action were intentional or if the employer acted maliciously.
Employees are entitled to pregnancy disability leave of up to four (4) months even if the employer normally allows less than four (4) months leave for similarly situated employees affected by other temporary disabilities. Further, if an employer allows more than four months leave for similarly situated employees with other temporary disabilities, it must extend the more generous leave to employees temporarily disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions as well. Similarly, employees on pregnancy disability leaves are to be treated the same as employees on other disability leaves in terms of pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.
Following a pregnancy disability leave, an employee generally has the right to be reinstated to the same position she held before the leave. If the same position no longer exists, the employee generally has a right to be reinstated in an available comparable position. Further, when an employee returns from pregnancy disability leave, she must receive the same benefits as before the leave, with no new qualification period, physical examination requirement, or exclusions for preexisting conditions.
In California, a pregnant employee is entitled to take a CFRA leave of absence after CPDLL leave. However, the employee must qualify for the leave, and the employer must be covered by CFRA for employee to take leave. California is more protective than federal law. CFRA leave can be taken after CPDLL leave, whereas pregnancy leave an FMLA leave runs concurrently. Thus, a California employee may take a longer leave of absence in some circumstances that federal law provides.
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