Maintaining Medical Privacy in the Workplace During Pregnancy
Every person in California has a constitutionally protected right to
privacy with respect to medical history and medical conditions. The
constitutional right to privacy means that employers are not allowed
absolute access into their employees’ medical records. In fact,
California health care providers are forbidden by statute from
disclosing medical information unless authorized.
constitutional right to medical privacy also extends to pregnant
women in the workplace. However, if you are suffering from a
pregnancy complication and need an accommodation (such as pregnancy
disability leave or a transfer), a medical certification must be
provided to the employer. California law is specific on what must
be included in the medical certification.
First, if an employee needs to take pregnancy disability leave, a
medical certification must be provided from the doctor that states
(1) the date the employee became disabled to due pregnancy; (2) the
expected duration of the disability; and (3) that due to the
disability, the employee is unable to work or perform an essential
job function without undue risk.
Second, if an employee needs a transfer to another position as a
result of a pregnancy related disability, a similar medical
certification must be provided to the employer that states (1) the
date the transfer became medically advisable; (2) the anticipated
duration of the transfer; and (3) a brief statement that because of
the employee’s pregnancy, the transfer is medically advisable.
California law does NOT require that employees provide the specific
medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment causing the need for the
leave or transfer. It is sufficient to state that the request is
being made to due pregnancy.
Finally, if an employee intends to return from a pregnancy related
leave of absence or can transfer back to their original position, it
is advisable to provide an additional medical certification stating
such to the employer.
For more information on laws related
to pregnancy and employment, visit
www.pregnancylawyer.com or call Attorney
Sarah B. Schlehr directly at (310) 492-5757.