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Pregnant in... California

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  • Pregnant in... California

    I'm 7 months pregnant in CA. I have a high risk pregnancy (2nd time, 1st time working for my employer), however I've continued to plug away, working overtime, volunteering for projects, etc. because I want to get promoted. Currently, I'm working in a lower position than my experience as I changed departments (same company). About three weeks ago I interviewed for a new position. The following Monday my manager offered me the position (2 job classifications above current) and asked if, due to imminent business needs, I could start that day. I accepted, before signing HR paperwork, and worked that week (discussions and work documented in email). The next week I had a previously scheduled (6 months prior) one week vacation. I asked my manager if I needed to sign any paperwork before I left and was told (in email) that it would be completed and ready upon my return.
    Unfortunately, just before returning I was hospitalized for pregnancy complications. My doctor released me, prescribing "Modified bed rest- ideally patient could work from home where she can elevate her feet at 30 degrees and not have to sit upright or stand for long periods". My manager and VP were ammenable to this idea, as we had a discussion previously just in case I experienced similar complications as my last pregnancy. I will interject, as demonstrated by my promotion, that my managers feel I am an excellent employee, have received very positive reviews and have been told continually that my "above and beyond" work ethic is appreciated. Now, 3 days into working remotely, HR is questioning the "liability" and "fairness" of my working at home. They have rescinded my promotion (which paperwork had not gone through), and sited something in the job description about being in the next level II position (I'm currently a I and promoted to III) for six months prior to promoting to III. The job description clearing states the requirement as "6 months in level II position OR minimum 3 years experience in XYZ"- I have over 10 solid years experience and clearly meet the written criteria. My manager quickly filled out paperwork to promote me to level II, in consolation, and stated that she and VP support me, however HR.... Today I have a MD follow up, where my manager suggested I have MD sign off on my current job description duties to attempt to clear "liability" (I work an office job on the computer and phone, for of all places a medical company). I am fed up with HR. I told my manager that it is absolutely not "fair" that I have to deal with these medical concerns and I don't understand if she and VP are confident that I can be productive and carry out my job duties why it is not their call. They're plenty of employees that work from home (for various reasons) at our company. Can they rescind my promotion? Do I have to file for SDI now? I'm not sure of the next step...

  • #2
    Your employer has an obligation to accommodate your pregnancy restrictions to the same extent it accommodates other disabilities, unless there is an undue hardship. "Fairness" is most certainly not an undue hardship..."liability" may be, depending on what that really means. Is there a way they could accommodate you at the office rather than having you work from home?

    Why do you believe they rescinded your promotion? Do you believe it was because of your pregnancy? What is the difference between a level II and III and is there a reason why you can perform level II duties with your restrictions but not level III?

    If you file for SDI now, your doctor will have to certify that you are unable to perform the essential functions of your job.

    As you can see from the number of questions I'm asking, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed before anyone can say whether there is a problem with your employer's actions. You can always consult an employment law attorney...most will do free consultations.


    • #3
      Thank you & follow up...

      To clarify, please excuse if too much information, my risk/complication is contractions increasing in frequency/strength that are prematurely effacing (shortening) my cervix, which could lead to pre-term labor. At this point, my doctor wants me to sit with my legs elevated, walk for short periods and lay on my left side rotating when necessary to lessen these symptoms. In addition I need to hydrate continuously with electrolytes, which can help to diminish contractions, while using the restroom frequently to keep an empty bladder, since a full bladder can exacerbate contractions. It's kind of complicated, however if this doesn't work they will have to move on to prescribing drugs which have a benefit/risk of their own.

      At the office I am pretty much tied to my desk/phone, upright which compresses abdomen. When I went to my follow up appointment, my doctor asked "What kind of a company do you work for? I'm not an attorney, however that sounds illegal to me?" She wrote a follow up letter/order stating that I can carry out my job duties (I brought her a copy of my job description.), computer/phone work at home while making the physical accomodations previously discussed. She said she will write them another letter, if that still doesn't cover "liability" and stated the same as you about "fairness"- a disability is a disability.

      The only difference between a I & II is additional work projects, no additional pay. The III is a training lead position which is would work with training new employees (as needed/sporadically) and for the majority is responsible for creating/writing training materials, Standard Operating Procedures and job aides. There is also a different III Lead position that is responsible for supervisory duties in the office.

      I believe that HR rescinded the promotion due to the change in my work status/need for accomodations, impending DSI/maternity leave and not wanting to have to pay me more for the new position. I can't prove this of course, however the timing seems very strange. Also, I know of our HR making other decisions that seem to financially benefit the company's interests while skating on the edge/not complying with employment law. It makes me feel; if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

      Thanks for your insight...


      • #4
        They certainly can't demote you because of your pregnancy, that would obviously be unlawful. However if there is some reason you can't perform the level III functions with your restrictions, but can perform level II, and there are no other equivalent positions available, they can temporarily transfer you while your restirctions are in place. So that would be my next question.

        I suggest writing an email (documenting things in writing is very important) stating that you feel your demotion is because of your pregnancy and that you request to be reinstated to level III. Perhaps you will get a response that indicates exactly why you were demoted. Then you'll have a better idea about what step to take next.


        • #5
          I will...

          follow up by email on Monday. I've also contacted an employment attorney for further advice. It would actually be easier for me to perform the level III duties from home, as the level I & II require more work answering phones in the office, while level III is a much more independent and project driven position. So I conclude that type of reasoning wouldn't make sense.

          I just want to pass this hurdle and get back to concentrating on my health and that of my baby. Thanks so much for your advice.


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