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While the United States is one of rare few countries in the United Nations that does not require fully paid maternity leave, our maternity discrimination laws have gotten better over the last 50 years. In particular The National Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), put protective laws in place for the benefit of pregnant women in the workplace.
Here are a few of the benefits set into law by the FLMA just over two decades ago. Note: these laws apply to companies with more than 50 employees and to employees who are not among the top 10% highest paid employees in the workforce.
- Allows up to 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave each year. This includes:
- Newborn care
- Post adoption care
- Caring for a sick child
- Caring for a sick spouse
- Caring for a sick parent
- Recovering from a personal illness
- Employees must be given their job back
- This could be the same job
- This could be a comparable job
- Employers must allow employee to use eligible health care benefits while on leave
In order to be eligible for maternity leave, full-time employees should have worked for at least one year. Part-time employees are eligible so long as they have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the last 12 months (an average of about 21 hours).
If you have been recently fired while on maternity leave, don’t hesitate to contact Goldman & Ehrlich. It may be that your termination is a violation of FLMA and other state and federal discrimination laws. Here is a story of a mother who was given verbal approval to take more than eight weeks of maternity leave only to find out that when she took it she lost her job. To her surprise, Massachusetts courts stood behind the employer’s decision, saying their state laws (set in place in 1972) only require 8 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.
While the FMLA expressly forbids employers from firing employees solely for using their maternity leave, some companies may attempt to fire mothers on maternity leave for other reasons. Even if your termination was said to be based on other factors, speak with our firm today. It may be that your wrongful termination claim may be upheld in court.
Goldman & Ehrlich Wrongful Termination Attorneys
Our team is uniquely prepared to represent your interests. Call us at 312.332.6733 today or contact our Chicago office online.