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Can My Employer Deny Me Leave for Postpartum Depression in California?


Postpartum depression is a very serious and widespread condition that strikes approximately 1 out of every 7 mothers after delivering a child. The effects can be debilitating on the new mother’s physical and emotional health for months at a time, and cause serious side effects for the child as well, which can even put the child’s life in danger in extreme cases. When a new mother is also providing for her family by working outside of the home, this can complicate and exacerbate the effects of postpartum depression, while limiting her ability to get the treatment she needs and take actions to mitigate the condition.

Many women who may be suffering from postpartum depression would like to take leave full or partial leave from their employment to seek treatment and spend more time at home and with their new child, but are concerned that doing so will endanger their employment status, especially where they have already taken time for pregnancy leave.

In California, however, most employers are required to provide medical leave for postpartum depression (as well as for depression following the involuntary or voluntary termination of a pregnancy) and should provide new mothers with certain rights following the leave.

Your Rights to Medical Leave for Postpartum Depression in California

If you are experiencing postpartum depression or other physical or emotional conditions related to pregnancy or the loss or end of a pregnancy, you are entitled to take unpaid medical leave from your California employer if there are 5 or more employees in your company.

Your rights to medical leave for pregnancy (or end/loss of pregnancy) conditions are provided under both the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) regulations. In total, you can take up to four months of leave for all conditions related to a pregnancy, including postpartum depression.

You do not have to take all of your pregnancy-related leave at once. Thus, if took 2 months of leave prior to and during the birth itself, but later develop signs of postpartum depression after you have returned to work, you will be able to take up to an additional 2 months of medical leave to equal a total of 4 months.

During your leave, your employer will be required to maintain your same health benefits and cannot terminate you on account of your pregnancy-related conditions. When you return to work after your medical leave, your employer may be required to restore you to the same or comparable position with no loss of benefits.

Exercising Your Right to Postpartum Depression Medical Leave in California

As part of taking leave for postpartum depression, it will be necessary to have your healthcare provider give you a recommendation which indicates that you should take leave and for how long.

If your employer either refuses to grant you leave, retaliates against you for taking leave (which can include demoting you or harassing you), or does not provide you with the appropriate benefits upon your return to work, you should speak with a pregnancy discrimination attorney to determine your rights for restoring you to your job and winning financial recovery for the employer’s illegal actions.

Contact a Los Angeles Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Today

If you suspect that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, work with the employment law team at LawPLA who can help you assess your situation and understand what legal options are available to you. Contact LawPLA today to schedule a consultation to discuss your potential pregnancy discrimination law claim.


PLEASE NOTE: This is not a representation, warranty, or guarantee of a future result or outcome. Every case is different just like every one of our clients.