maternity leave turned to lay off

Im due to take maternity leave very soon. I gave my boss enough notice about my maternity. When he got back to me in regards to the leave, he told me the company didn't have enough money to pay for my maternity (the company is in bad shape) and has to lay me off so I can collect. When he asked if I was coming back, I said yes, i was planning too. He told me call the company back to see if everthing is going well for them. So I feel pretty much like if i lost me job for good. Is that legal?

1 answer  |  asked Oct 15, 2004 1:38 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Conflicting Reasons

Discrimination claims always get to the reason why an employer takes an action. Discrimination laws are intent laws. That is, in a discrimination case, a court has to in effect climb into the mind of an employer to determine what the employer was thinking.

Now, only certain reasons are prohibited by the anti-discrimination laws. That is, an employer cannot take an action if the reason for the action is an employee's race, national origin, religion, gender, age or handicap. Gender discrimination includes pregnancy discrimination, so that an employer is prohibited from taking an action against an employee if the reason for the action is the employee's pregnancy.

The wording of what I have said above is important because without grasping the wording of what I have just said, you will not understand what I am about to say. Although it is illegal to take an adverse employment action against an employee because that employee is pregnant, it is perfectly legal to take an adverse employment action against any employee, even if the employee happens to be pregnant. In other words, simply because an employee is pregnant does not mean that employee cannot be fired, demoted, transferred, suspended, etc.

In this query, it seems that the employee was fired for two possible reasons: 1) because the company was in financial trouble and had to cut staff; and 2) because the employee is pregnant. The first reason is legal. The second is not.

Without knowing a lot more about the case, I would not be able to say whether reason 1, 2 or both is the actual reason for the employer's action. If the facts show that the only reason was reason 1, then the employer has done nothing wrong. If the reason was 2, or a combination of 1 and 2, then the employer's action is probably illegal.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Oct 19, 2004 09:38 AM [EST]

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