Assemblymember Rudy Salas advanced legislation for pregnant correctional officers.
Assemblymember Rudy Salas advanced legislation for pregnant correctional officers.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1906, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), passed with bipartisan support this week legislation designed to provide reasonable working accommodations for all pregnant correctional officers and improve workplace conditions for female officers.

Salas, who represents Lemoore and Kings County, introduced the legislation after a former correctional officer at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi sued the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), alleging that she was denied the opportunity to take a light-duty assignment while pregnant, and subsequently fell while responding to a fight between two inmates leading to the loss of her unborn child during her seventh month of pregnancy.

Until 2015, CDCR allowed pregnant officers to work light-duty assignments. 

“The practice of denying working accommodations to pregnant correctional officers is appalling, discriminatory, and unacceptable,” said Salas. “I am pleased to see the Legislature move one step closer to ending this senseless practice and creating an equal working environment for all correctional officers.”

According to reporting from the Bakersfield Californian, after being denied reasonable accommodations for work while she was pregnant, CDCR informed the correctional officer that she “could stay in her current position and work until five weeks before her due date, accept a demotion that would result in less pay and loss of benefits, or take leave. Because the correctional officer couldn’t afford to go on leave, she stayed in her current position.” After the tragic incident resulting in the loss of her unborn baby, the officer filed a lawsuit against CDCR.

A Kern County Superior Court judge ruled in the correctional officer’s favor and awarded damages to her. A class-action lawsuit has also been filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of six women who were denied standard accommodations while they were pregnant. A judge has ruled a temporary injunction that makes light-duty assignments available to the six women who sued the state.

AB 1906 will require CDCR to provide light-duty accommodations to all pregnant correctional officers, removing the possibility that correctional officers will face the decision in the future to continue working in a job that could risk their babies’ health, take a demotion, or take a leave absence. This bill will provide critical protections to end gender discrimination against pregnant correctional officers in the workplace.

AB 1906 will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.


Assembly's Salas advances 'Safer Workplace' legislation for pregnant correctional officers