Employment Disputes Over Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy or Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to enable an employee to perform the essential functions of the job if he or she needs these accommodations because of a disability. These accommodations might include changes to the workspace, special equipment (such as a text-messaging enabled phone instead of a walkie-talkie for a Deaf employee) or changes to the work schedule. Later legal developments have established that pregnant women have the right to reasonable accommodations and have instructed employers to treat pregnancy complications as a temporary disability. Whether or not you require accommodations during your pregnancy depends on your usual job duties and on which pregnancy complications, if any, you experience. If your employer refused to make accommodations related to your pregnancy, contact a Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer.
Is a Flexible Schedule a Reasonable Accommodation
This year, a court in California ruled in favor of the employer in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by a former employee. The plaintiff worked at a shelter for survivors of domestic violence from 2002 until 2017. By 2016, the year in which she gave birth to her child, the plaintiff had been promoted to a role in which she had considerable decision-making authority and responsibilities regarding admitting new residents to the shelter.
During her pregnancy, the plaintiff requested an accommodation, namely a more flexible work schedule; she provided documentation from her doctor that, because of her pregnancy, she required a less stressful work environment. The employer refused to make the accommodation, arguing that a flexible schedule would not help her perform the essential functions of her job, namely helping vulnerable women and children get out of abusive situations and adjust to life in the shelter. In other words, her job was inherently stressful, regardless of the hours.
When the plaintiff returned from maternity leave in early 2017, the employer terminated her employment. Because the employer provided a negative reference when the plaintiff applied for other jobs, she had not found new employment by early 2018. The court sided with the plaintiff on the grounds that the accommodations she requested were reasonable.
Negotiating for Reasonable Accommodations Is a Process
According to California law, when an employee or job candidate discloses a disability, the employer must make the first move in offering accommodations. The employee should request an accommodation, and if the employer cannot make that accommodation, then it should request an alternative one. This process continues until the employer and the employee have reached an agreement regarding an accommodation that will enable the employee to do his or her job but will not place an excessive financial burden on the employer. Which accommodations are reasonable and appropriate varies according to the job duties and the employer’s resources.
Speak With a Los Angeles Employment Discrimination Lawyer
A Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer can help you if your employer refused to make accommodations during your pregnancy. Contact Obagi Law Group, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call 424-284-2401.