Employees who have left work on a pregnancy disability leave (PDL) are protected for up to 17 1/3 weeks by state law.
If the employee remains disabled after the PDL time has been used, reasonable accommodation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the federal American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), including but not limited to an additional leave of absence, is required.
California law specifically provides that the right to four months of pregnancy disability leave is “separate and distinct” from the right to take a leave of absence as a form of reasonable accommodation for a disability.
In addition, after the employee is released to return to work, she may be entitled to additional time off work under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or the California New Parent Leave Act for baby bonding. If your company is legally required to provide either of these leaves and the employee is eligible, then she may qualify for up to 12 more weeks off within a year after the birth of the baby.
Even if the employee has exhausted all leave protections, it is a best practice to consult with legal counsel before taking any type of adverse employment action against an employee who has been out on protected leave, such as firing her.