I am sorry you are going through such a difficult time with your pregnancy. I wish I could provide you with optimistic news but, unfortunately, the maximum legal protection for people who qualify for both FMLA (or CFRA in California) and pregnancy disability leave is 7 months, combined.
Some larger employers have medical leave policies which may extend beyond that but that is purely a voluntarily or negotiated for benefit. If you know of situations where the employer may have allowed male employees to take a year off for a medical reason but not you, you may have a basis for a gender discrimination claim but many facts must be in place for this to be viable.
You can request a reasonable accommodation from your employer to extend your leave until after you have your baby. Whether the employer must accommodate you in this manner, depends on many factors. But it certainly would not hurt to request it. If the employer flat out refuses to even consider an extension, consult with an employment law attorney for a legal analysis of your rights and options.
They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
Congratulations on your growing family!
I agree with Mr. Kirschbaum's sound advice. I write to add that if the reason you need bedrest is related to another medical condition that meets the definition of disability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or the ADA, you may have an additional option. The documentation from your physician would have to be written in a particular way to protect your rights so if this seems viable, make sure to consult with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney before getting the additional medical documentation.
Please look at my Avvo guide on pregnancy discrimination: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&permalink=pregnancy-leave-federal-and-california-rights
Please look at my Avvo guide on the ADA: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&permalink=disability-discrimination-in-employment.
Please look at my Avvo guide to the differences between the ADA and California's more generous FEHA: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/employment-disability-protection-under-californias-fair-employment-and-housing-act-and-federal-ada?published=true.
To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
I agree with both Mr. Kirschbaum and Ms. Spencer. I write only to add that the law requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for pregnancies. This is similar to what Ms. Spencer was describing for disabilities, but since you are pregnant, you qualify if your employer is subject to this particular law whether or not you have a disability.
As Mr. Kirschbaum pointed out, what is "reasonable" will vary based on a number of factors, including the size of the employer, the type of work you do, and many others. Consult with an attorney to determine whether and when to request a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy.
Good luck with the baby!
Craig T. Byrnes
Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not offering legal advice, nor forming an attorney-client relationship with you. I am not representing you, nor doing anything to protect your legal rights. If you believe that you have suffered a legal wrong, take action before any statute or limitations expires, or your right to do so may be lost forever. Good luck in your legal matter.