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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.   

The 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 or call Attorney Sarah B. Schlehr directly at (310) 492-5757.


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Sarah Schlehr, your pregnancy lawyer






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