Can you be terminated for giving birth?

I am 6 months pregnant. I was hired at my current job 3 months ago and I fully disclosed my pregnancy. I opted in for benefits being full time and also opted in for short term disability. I was told point blank today that in 3 months I will be terminated due to giving birth. I was also told that I would no longer have benefits and would not be eligible to use my short term disability due to not being eligible for FMLA. When I reached out the HR department they told me that I would need to resign before givingbirth so that I am in good standing if I want to be eligible for rehire. Is this discrimination? How can I be told that I will be terminated in 3 months because I’m pregnant. I feel like I should be protected somehow.

Asked on March 9, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You cannot be terminated for giving birth--but you *can* be terminated for missing work, including for giving birth, if:
1) You have not accrued enough paid time off (PTO) to cover your absence; and/or 
2) You cannot or do not use FMLA unpaid leave for the absence--and if you have been there for less than a year, you *cannot* use PTO.
The law does not make employers retain employees who miss work, even for pregnancy or other medical reasons, if they cannot cover the absence with some combination of PTO and FMLA. You would be terminated in this case not for being pregnant or giving birth, but for absenteeism.
Disability, whether you are eligible for it or not, does not hold or protect your job--it provides income replacement (at least in part) when you cannot work, but does not protect you from termination for absenteeism.


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