What Happens if I Get Fired Before Maternity Leave?


Laura Schaefer

Pregnancy is a time of excitement and joy. It’s also a time of challenge as you work to prepare for your growing family, but what happens if you get fired before maternity leave? If your termination happened just because of your pregnancy status, know that your job may be legally protected during this vulnerable time.

You’re entitled to return to the same position you had before your maternity leave once you resume work. If you’ve been wrongfully fired before beginning maternity leave, you may have a wrongful termination case against your employer. This means you may be entitled to a settlement payment.

This article will examine what the law says on the issue and how an employment law attorney can help in understanding your legal rights. If you are ready to claim the compensation you deserve, read on.

Free Employment Case Evaluation

Treated unfairly at work or think an employer violated your rights? Don't settle for less! Click here to speak with a nearby attorney for FREE about your claim.

Can a Company Fire You Before FMLA Leave?

Though the United States doesn’t require businesses to offer paid maternity leave to employees, an employer can’t fire you for FMLA leave alone. You’re entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a newborn or adoption of a child, according to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

To be eligible, you must have worked for a company that employs fifty or more employees and have completed at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.

If a company fires you before or during maternity leave because you are taking it, that would be classified as retaliation, which is illegal. However, an employer can lay you off or fire you if your upcoming maternity leave has nothing to do with the termination.

IMPORTANT: To properly analyze your case, contact an employment attorney. There are laws protecting your right to disclose your medical condition to your employer. If they’re violating these laws, you may qualify for damages.

Is Getting Fired for Maternity Leave Considered Discrimination?

Although an employer can fire you for work-related reasons, they can’t dismiss you based on pregnancy or other medically-related conditions. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and most state laws protect employees from pregnancy discrimination. Below are two reasons you’re legally protected while on maternity leave:

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

Pregnancy discrimination is prohibited under both state and federal law. These statutes prevent employers from discriminating against you based on your pregnancy, childbirth, maternity leave, or related medical conditions.

Your employer cannot fire you just because you are pregnant or about to take maternity leave. If they do, it is a clear violation of employee rights and labor laws – and grounds for a legal action.

Unfair Dismissal

A dismissal from your job is considered unfair unless your employer can first show there was a fair reason for dismissal. This must prove your employer acted reasonably in choosing to terminate you, regardless of maternity leave.

Pregnancy and maternity leave are prohibited as grounds for termination under human rights law and employment legislation. They can’t dismiss you just because you are about to go on maternity leave.

Ways a Company Can Legally Fire You While Pregnant

An employer can terminate pregnant women for legitimate reasons. Here are some examples of legal reasons to fire you:

  • Organizational restructuring
  • Departmental restructuring
  • Customer complaints
  • Documented performance issues
  • Changes in role requirements

In other words, if your job would have been eliminated regardless of your upcoming maternity leave, your employer acted legally. If you sustained an adverse action because of your time off, you may have a legal claim for retaliation.

What to Do if You Get Laid Off Before FMLA Leave

If you get fired before maternity leave, gather as much evidence as possible surrounding your case. Your attorney will need hard evidence as well as circumstantial evidence to defend your claim. Here are ways you can gather the facts to solidify your pregnancy discrimination lawsuit:

  • Educate yourself about employment law. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines on discrimination and retaliation to protect employees like you.
  • Talk to your employer’s HR department to get more information about your termination.
  • Collect direct evidence you were laid off because of your upcoming leave. Look for relevant emails, memos, letters, or other evidence.
  • Seek legal help from an experienced employment attorney.
  • Refrain from signing severance agreements if you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated. These agreements may waive your right to sue.

Your employment attorney will walk you through this process so you won’t deal with the aftermath on your own. Properly reporting your wrongful termination will help prevent future violations from happening in the future.

Reasonable Accommodation After Maternity Leave

Asking for reasonable accommodation to your workplace environment can ease the stress of pregnancy while staying employed at your company. In fact, it’s your right under the law according to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

A reasonable accommodation can include things such as:

  • Changing your work schedule to lessen morning sickness suffering
  • Reassigning duties to a coworker so you can comply with lifting restrictions
  • Providing chairs during work-related duties (such as cashiering)
  • Allowing you to telecommute to meetings rather than travel
  • Providing for frequent bathroom breaks without penalty

Firing you for requesting reasonable accommodations is illegal under state and federal law. If this has happened to you, call an employment attorney as soon as you can.

Find an Employment Attorney to Compensate Your Damages

If you’re facing wrongful termination due to your pregnancy, you may wonder “What happens if I get fired before maternity leave?”. You need a legal professional to clarify your questions while defending you against negligent employment practices. Contact an employment law attorney to understand your legal rights.

A wrongful termination lawyer can help you seek the maximum compensation you deserve against lost wages, legal costs, and fees, money for pain and suffering, and emotional distress, all payment-free until you get your settlement in the mail.

If you feel you’ve been discriminated against at work, wrongfully terminated due to your upcoming maternity leave, or not given rightful accommodations at work, contact LegalASAP today and schedule your free employment case evaluation.

Our network of trusted and experienced attorneys are always ready to assist you with your legal matters.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.