March 7, 2013

California Employers: Beware

The California Court of Appeals recently rendered an opinion in Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc., No. B23776, (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 21, 2013), which may cause California employers to want to review their leaves of absence policies and procedures.

As background, Ana Sanchez was placed on bed rest early in her pregnancy.  After exhausting her pregnancy disability leave available to her under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave law (California Government Code Section 12945), as well as available leave under the California Family Rights Act (California Government Code sections 12945.1 and 12945.2), together with exhaustion of her accrued leave available from her employer, the employer terminated her employment.

The trial court supported the employer’s position and she appealed.  The California Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision stating that the California pregnancy disability leave law is not a law of limitation, and in fact, an individual may be entitled additional rights under California’s Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) (also contained in California Government Code Section 12945).  FEHA provides protection for employees against discrimination or employment-related actions due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition. FEHA also prohibits employers from denying or interfering with an employee’s pregnancy-related employment rights.

California employers should make certain that all laws are considered in determining what protections might be available to individuals when making decisions about employment actions. 


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