Is it legal for an employer to take away your benefits after returning from maternity leave?

I returned from maternity to work part-time. Upon my first week at work my employer notified me that because of my part-time status he ended my benefits, sick, vacation, bonus and medical retroactive before I even came back. He also changed my status to an

Asked on January 10, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you have a contract guarantying your position for a set or fixed period of time (such as a one-year contract), which period of time has not yet expired, you always were an "at will" employee--all employment is employment at will except if and to the extent changed by contract.
2) If you changed from working full time to part time, you may lose any benefits only given to full time employees: that is legal, and is neither discriminatory nor retaliatory because it is a response to a change you initiated (by going to part time work) in your employment and is not based on pregnancy or leave, but is rather based on how many hours your are choosing to work. They can't treat you worse than any other part-time employees (if any) there, but they can treat you like a part-time, not full-time, employee.
3) When you return from leave to part-time work, they can make any changes (see above) retro to when you went out on leave. Remember: when you go out on leave, the "deal" is you will return to the same hours, etc. you had pre-leave. If you don't come back the same way you left, they don't have to give you more compensation or better benefts during the time you were out than you are entitled to on your return, but can treat it as if you made the change effective when you went out on leave.

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