Got fired first day back from maternity leave, is this even legal?

I live in Connecticut and I am a medical provider working for the State. My boss has always dislike me other people have noticed, this is not personal opinion and was never keen on hiring/keeping me, but he wasn’t really able to get rid of me until now. I had a complicated pregnancy and had to lower the load of patients that I could see per hour, which infuriated my boss but he had to comply due to several medical letter from my OB stating that his was a medical necessity. I got back from maternity leave on Friday and I was served with a letter of dismissal stating that during my leave they have found proof of borderline medical malpractice and this meant that I wasn’t meeting my job standards. Upon asking to see the proof he was talking about he presented me with some scattered xrays without any patient identification on them. I informed him that I couldn’t even know if this were my cases and once I asked to see my notes and the patient’s charts to have some context of what he was talking about he proceeded to tell me that if I pursued the issue any further he would have to contact the Department of Public Health in order to open an investigation and possible have my license revoked. He also informed me that, out of the good of his heart, he was giving me 6 months noticed in order for me to be able to find another job but that if I didn’t before the 6 months were up instead of having to fired me he wouldn’t be able to give me a good recommendation once prospective employers started contacting him for references. Mind you, during my 5 years working the company I never had a single memo, patient complaint or was written up for anything. I am at a loss and deeply upset. Thank you for your help.

Asked on January 7, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It would be legal IF there was some valid, non-pregnancy and non-maternity leave reason, such as if there had been "borderline malpractice." However, an employer cannot simply assert such a reason when there is, to the contrary, reason to suggest that this is illegal anti-women discrimination (since only women get pregnant, discrimation based on pregnancy is taken to be anti-women discrimination) or retaliation for using maternity leave: there must support or evidence for it. If there is no persuasive evidence that there is a non-discriminatory or non-retaliatory reason when, on the face of it, the conduct appears to be discriminatory or retaliatory, the employer can be found be to guilty of illegal conduct and the employee may be entitled to compensation. Based on what you write--the fact that the "evidence" the employer showed you does not appear to be persuasive--it would be worthwhile for you to contact the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency. Let them look into this; if your employer believes that  there is support for his contention of "borderline malpractice," let him present that to the agency.

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