Worrying my employee for future pregnancy

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Worrying my employee for future pregnancy

I am running a small business which has less than 15 employees. One of my employees wanted to hire a woman who is early 20’s she is even trying to finish her school so I was not worried about this pregnancy issue up until now I found out that she is living with her boyfriend. Our work is pretty intense requiring lots of physical work. She is doing pretty OK now but I am worried if she gets pregnant soon then how I can deal with her working less. I know it is illegal to discriminate pregnant women but I am running a small business that I can’t afford her medical bills or leaves and her being exposure to danger of doing too much physical work here. How can I work this around with this employee to prevent any loss of my business?

Asked on May 23, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no safe way to not hire a pregnant woman due to her pregnancy, if she tells you that she can (e.g. physically) do the job (if she lacks qualifications, degrees, or experience the job requires, or says upfront that she can't do the job, that is a different story--you can refuse to hire her for any non-pregnancy-related reason).
Note that you do NOT have to give her any leave for pregnancy or health reasons unless:
1) She is eligible for FMLA leave--which she will not be, because your business is too small (does not have at least 50 employees) to be covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act.
2) She has and uses sufficient paid time off (PTO) to cover her absence. 
3) She qualifies for up to four months of unpaid time off under your state's pregnancy disability leave (PDL) law, which means that there is some medical reason (e.g. needs bed rest or medical care; cannot safely work) for the leave--there is no PDL just to have time off to "bond" with a newborn child or as general maternity leave, and you *can* request medical certification (e.g. something from a doctor) proving that she has a medical need for the leave.
So it may be the case that her ability to take leave is limited, unless she qualifies for the medically related pregnancy disability leave and can prove her qualification for it with something from a doctor. If she takes misses work when she doesn't have PDL leave or PTO for it, you can terminate her for absenteeism; and since PDL is unpaid leave, if she gets it, you can use the wages you would have paid her for a temp to cover her job until she returns (not ideal, I know, but it does help).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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