Everything that You Need to Know about Maternity Leave and Employment
Service OverviewFor women in the workplace, making the decision to have a child comes with the need to take time off work. Having to take time off work for pregnancy and matters related to childbirth, for example, can put women at a disadvantage in the workplace. Too many women suffer injustices in the workplace associated with pregnancy and maternity. The women who are subjected to unfair and discriminatory treatment in the workplace have options, however. They could pursue claims against their employers and hold them accountable for their actions.
What is Maternity Leave?
How Long is Maternity Leave in California?
There are three different types of leave under the blanket category of maternity leave; these categories are pregnancy disability leave, family leave, and reasonable accommodation leave. Each type of leave is associated with a specific length of time.
Pregnancy disability leave can be of up to 4 months. An employee with a disability that is directly related to pregnancy or the birth of a child can go on pregnancy disability leave for up to 4 months that the disability is ongoing. Section 12945 of the California Government Code states that it is unlawful for
“an employer to refuse to allow an employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition to take a leave for a reasonable period of time not to exceed four months and thereafter return to work…reasonable period of time means that period during which the employee is disabled on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.”
Family leave can be of up to 12 weeks (although it only applies to employees working with employers with 20 or more employees). Employees can take up to 12 weeks of family leave to bond with a child. Based on Section 12945.2 of the California Government Code, it is unlawful for employers to
” refuse to grant a request by any employee with more than 12 months of service with the employer, and who has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, to take up to a total of 12 workweeks in any 12-month period for family care and medical leave. Family care and medical leave requested…shall not be deemed to have been granted unless the employer provides the employee, upon granting the leave request, a guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position upon the termination of the leave.”
It is also possible to request additional leave as a reasonable accommodation for any disabilities that are directly related to pregnancy. The right to request a reasonable accommodation is protected by section 12940 (subdivision m).
What Can You Do If Your Employer Fails to Follow the Law in Regards to Maternity Leave and Other Pregnancy-Related Leave?
What could you do if your employer violates the different laws that allow maternity leave and pregnancy-related leave? There are quite a few options available to you. Initially, you might want to address the issue directly with your employer. This could lead to an informal resolution that requires no additional action or lengthy legal process. Another option is to file a claim with a state employment agency. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is California’s employment agency, which handles all employment claims that arise from employers violating employment laws and subjecting their employees to unjust treatment. The DFEH investigates the situation and, if necessary, takes action against the employer. If neither of these options lead to a resolution (and your claim is completely valid), you will also have the option of pursuing a civil claim against your employer.
For more information about what you could do after your employer violated maternity leave or pregnancy-related leave laws, you should seek legal expertise.
Important Steps You Should Follow
What should you do if your employer infringed on your rights to maternity leave or pregnancy-related leave? Consider the following steps:
- Record all exchanges with your employer. Take notes of what was said. Keep track of important dates (when you made requests and when your requests were denied, etc.)
- Review the different employment laws that protect you
- File a formal complaint with your human resources department (if available). Request a copy of all formal complaints.
- File a complaint with the appropriate state employment agency (the DFEH for Californian employees)
- Gather witness information (any co-worker or manager that was aware of the unfair treatment to which your employer subjected you)
- Seek the legal representation of an attorney experienced in maternity leave employment law
You Could be Compensated
Could you be compensated if you pursue an employment claim against your employer? If you file a claim against your employer for the violating your right to maternity leave or discriminating against you because of your request for maternity leave, you might be eligible to receive at least some sort of compensation.
Many people make assumptions about the compensation that they could receive. However, the only valid information regarding the possible value of your claim and the compensation that you could recover should come straight from an employment attorney. Although we cannot provide you with details on the value of your claim (without a thorough claim evaluation first), you should be familiar with the different types of compensation that you could recover based on the details of your claim.
Usually, employment claims result in the recovery of at least some of the following types of compensation:
- Lost income (past and future lost wages)
- Lost work-related benefits (including health insurance, life insurance, etc.)
- Pain and suffering (mental and emotional distress)
- Legal fees (associated with pursuing legal action)
In cases in which the employee was terminated or moved to another position, for instances, the employee could be reinstated after a successful claim outcome. There is no guarantee that claims will reach any sort of recovery; however, with the appropriate legal representation, it is likely that victimized employees recover what they deserve.
Your Claim is Subject to Deadlines – The Statute of Limitations
All claims are subject to a strict deadline or a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations determines the length of time that claimants have to file their claims before they lose their right to sue. Employment claims can be subjected to different deadlines; therefore, claimants must always exercise caution and seek legal assistance when necessary. When filing through the DFEH, claims must be filed within 1 year. After gaining the right-to-sue from the DFEH, claimants will have 1 year to pursue civil claims. Unless you are willing to lose your right to sue, it is essential that you seek the expertise of an employment lawyer to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the deadline that applies to your claim.
Employment Attorney Group – Here to Represent Your Rights
If you were denied your maternity leave or you were subject to poor employment actions/treatment because you requested or went on maternity leave, it is essential that you seek legal assistance; depending on some details, you might have grounds to pursue a claim against your employer. If you are interested in pursuing a claim, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney immediately – your claim could suffer if you do not have the appropriate representation. If you are in need of legal representation, you should consider contacting Employment Attorney Group.