I Was Terminated Shortly After I Returned From Maternity Leave. What Should I Do?

New York City Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Employees

Women take maternity leave in order to care for a newborn and to recover from the difficulties of childbirth. Federal, state, and New York City laws prohibit workplace gender discrimination, as well as discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. You may have a claim for discrimination if you were terminated in connection with taking maternity leave, but the viability of your claim depends on your circumstances. Our New York City pregnancy discrimination lawyers can advise you on your options.

I Was Terminated Shortly After I Returned From Maternity Leave. What Should I Do?

If you were terminated shortly after you came back from maternity leave, you should discuss the matter with an experienced pregnancy discrimination attorney. Federal, state, and local laws protect employees from pregnancy and childbirth discrimination. Under these laws, you may be protected from being terminated based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.

Recourse Under Federal Laws

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may apply to a lawsuit involving termination related to taking maternity leave. Employers with at least 50 employees are covered by the FMLA, and if your employer is covered, you can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for certain purposes, including taking care of a newborn child and bonding with the child. The FMLA leave needs to be taken within a year of the birth. If you are entitled to take FMLA leave to take care of your newborn, your employer should not retaliate against you for exercising that right by terminating you. The closer in time to your FMLA maternity leave that you were terminated, the more likely it is that your attorney will be able to show a causal relationship between the leave and the termination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, among other protected traits. It was amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. While pregnancy itself is not a disability, it may be possible to frame a termination after returning from maternity leave granted by your employer as pregnancy discrimination.

Recourse Under State and City Laws

The New York State Human Rights Law makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or to terminate an employee based on her pregnancy. It is illegal under state law to discriminate against someone in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of their pregnancy. In the State of New York, if you take maternity leave, you are entitled to have some or all of your wages replaced through the New York Paid Family Leave program. It is an insurance benefit whereby an employee with a qualifying event, such as the birth of a new child, can apply for leave through an employer’s insurance carrier and, if approved, will be paid benefits by the insurer. Most new parents who work for private employers become eligible for a maximum of eight weeks of partially paid maternity leave in a year. Your employer should not interfere with your right to take the paid maternity leave.

In some cases, a private employer offers a separate maternity pay package. It may be possible to take the leave provided by your employer concurrently with the New York Paid Family Leave. It is the New York Paid Family Leave that allows you to take the leave with your job protected. The amount that you receive will depend on the state average weekly wage. If your employer terminates you shortly after you get back from maternity leave, there is a stronger basis for arguing that you were terminated in retaliation for taking the New York Paid Family Leave.

The New York City Human Rights Law also mandates that employees be free from discrimination in connection with pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Your New York City employer is supposed to provide you with reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to childbirth or pregnancy.

Consult an Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney

If you believe that your employer fired you because you took maternity leave, you should discuss the matter with the experienced attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or contact us through our online form. We handle employment litigation in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

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