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What are your rights as a pregnant employee?

As a female employee, you may face a situation that no male employee ever will – discrimination over your pregnancy.

California law gives you considerable protection during your pregnancy and after giving birth. That does not mean your employer will automatically give you that protection. They might not understand them or might hope to get away with ignoring them.

You have a right to ask for reasonable accommodations

Provided your employer has at least five employees, they need to make reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy so you can continue doing your job. Examples of things you could ask for include:

  • Changes to your schedule to allow you to work earlier or later
  • More breaks and longer breaks so you can do the things you need, such as eat or go the restroom
  • Rest if you are tired due to your pregnancy
  • A seat, even if your job usually requires you to stand
  • Help with lifting and other tasks that require manual exertion
  • A temporary change of position, where possible, to something less hazardous or less strenuous

Don’t expect your employer to guess everything you might need, especially if they have never been pregnant themself. Don’t be afraid to go up and request things and perhaps explain why you need them. Remember, the accommodations you ask for need to be reasonable when taken in the context of the company and a larger company may need to go further than a smaller one.

If you want to learn more about your pregnancy rights before approaching your employer, or if they are not allowing you what you believe you are entitled to, seek legal help to clarify your situation.

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