i have a small company...3 employees total.

my small company, 3 employees had an employee who recently went on maternity. She received disability plus was paid $250 per week for all 4 months she was out. She has since returned and I feel that for various reasons I no longer need her. Note that she has been a long term employee. Note further that while she was pregnant I said that she would have a job but, things change! What is my responsibility?

1 answer  |  asked Mar 15, 2016 12:32 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

V Jonas Urba
If the new mother is a New York City resident she is protected by the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the New York City Human Rights Law. These laws cover employers with four or more full time employees and you should consult with a labor and employment lawyer to determine whether there is any possibility that your business might be covered. Not doing so could be costly.

Furthermore, the New York State Human Rights Law was amended on January 19, 2016 to cover all employers and their employees, regardless of size, for discrimination based on gender or sex and now permits prevailing attorneys to recover their fees when successful. Also, if the employee has a "pregnancy related" condition then she is temporarily disabled under the State Human Rights Law.

In addition, caution is advised because lactating mothers are covered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This allows break time for nursing mothers. Employees are permitted reasonable time to express breast milk, in private, at work and not in a bathroom for one year after a child's birth.

Your employee sounds like a low-wage worker who was paid leave as part of your company's benefits package. If you truly need to replace her do so methodically. Your best option would be to consult with a labor and employment attorney in an effort to avert a potentially costly mistake. All employment law cases are based on specific facts which require careful analysis and evaluation. Unfortunately there is no canned or boxed answer to fit your facts.

posted by V Jonas Urba  |  Mar 16, 2016 08:14 AM [EST]

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