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Pregnancy & Leave Discrimination

If you’re a modern mother and you’re expecting, you’ve probably read obsessively about your pregnancy. Being prepared for delivery is a great way to shift focus off of the pain and discomfort of pregnancy, as well as the stressful anticipation of delivery and caring for a newborn. You’ve got your hospital bag packed, the baby’s furniture is purchased and you’ve scheduled your last appointment with your OB/GYN.

And then you get fired.

If your employer is punishing you for taking sick leave or personal days for FMLA eligible and pregnancy-related doctor’s visits or sickness, your employer is breaking the law and likely setting you up for termination based on your pregnancy.

Nobody ever plans to lose their job at a time of incredible stress, but there are sound reasons for adding “nightmarishly timed workplace disruption” to your list of what to expect when you are expecting. For most employers, accommodating a pregnancy is both expensive and inconvenient. However, most employers these days offer leave benefits which exceed those you would otherwise be entitled to by law under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) acknowledging the necessity of making accommodations for pregnant employees. That doesn’t mean that your particular manager, who is responsible for meeting target deliverables on a quarterly, semiannual or annual basis, is going to be pleased by this necessity, and he or she may secretly resent you for your pregnancy.

In a common scenario, after an employee discloses their pregnancy to their manager and coworkers, the initial reaction is supportive, but shortly afterwards, the employee notices increased scrutiny and performance criticism from their manager. Gradually, the employee’s manager lays a foundation for termination and fires the employee before she goes out on leave claiming that performance issues existed before the employee announced her pregnancy, a lie which provides a convenience defense to a claim of pregnancy discrimination. Also, if you have pregnancy related complications which require leave independent of your planned leave for delivery, you may qualify for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which allows you to take more leave than you had originally planned for.

So you’d be best served by calling a lawyer immediately and possibly litigating, which you have the power to do given the trail of incriminating evidence left by your employer, and taking control of a situation which is likely to escalate out of control quickly. Regardless, if you believe you are being set up for termination because of your pregnancy, consult with a lawyer about your legal options before the situation escalates out of control, leaving you with no income or health insurance.