Woman Who Was Fired While on Maternity Leave Awarded $150K
Company would not take her calls, then fired her for job abandonment
Many women worry that pregnancy or childbirth could have a negative impact on their careers.
Unfortunately, there is ample reason for their concerns. Even in 2017, there are still employers who unlawfully fire, demote, or otherwise penalize women for being pregnant or having children.
Let’s take a look at a recent case and then discuss what all working women should know about their rights concerning maternity leave.
Wouldn’t pick up the phone
After working at North Jersey Dermatology for nearly four years, a worker announced her pregnancy.
Due to complications with the birth of her child, the woman required several weeks of disability leave in addition to her maternity leave. The woman claims that she attempted to contact the company to discuss her return to work several weeks before her leave was over.
However, she was unable to get anyone on the phone.
Two weeks after her first call, the company’s chief operating officer allegedly called the woman to inform her that she’d been terminated for job abandonment.
The woman sued the company for wrongful termination.
Rather than have to defend its alleged actions in court, the company agreed to settle the case. The woman will receive $150,000.
(Read more about this case here.)
Protection from termination
Women who are eligible to take maternity leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally may not be fired for taking leave. They are also protected from being terminated immediately upon their return to work, or in close proximity of their return to work.
Some women who experience medical complications may also be entitled to extended leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, it’s important to keep in mind that ADA coverage is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Unfortunately, many employers attempt to exploit a loophole in the law to terminate women during maternity leave.
By stating that termination was part of a reduction-in-force, or related to another matter other than pregnancy, companies can attempt to cover the tracks of unlawful discrimination or retaliation.
However, the good news is that courts often insist on a thorough examination of the timeline and events that precipitate a woman being fired during her maternity leave.
For example, courts may find it suspicious if a woman is fired for supposed misconduct over minor infractions when others have not been reprimanded for the same offenses. On the other hand, if a woman’s entire department is laid off while she’s on maternity leave, the termination may not have been unlawful.
Call us for a consultation now
If you believe that you’ve been subjected to unlawful treatment at work due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, you should speak to an attorney to find out more about your rights.
Contact us today to discuss your unique situation.