Can you terminate someone for taking time off for the illness/death of the baby?

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Can you terminate someone for taking time off for the illness/death of the baby?

I’m in the HR dept of a motel. We have an employee who was pregnant and had to take off work on a day when she was hospitalized for going into pre-term labor. She had her child several days later; he was born 2 months early and was put into ICU. She came back to work several weeks later because the General Manager kept texting her asking when she was coming back. Her baby had a lot of health problems when he was released from ICU. He died 2 weeks ago; his funeral was last week. She had not talked with the GM until today to let him know she was ready to come back and he told her she did not have a job.

Asked on August 16, 2011 Oklahoma

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

An employer can terminate an employee for taking time off for the illness of his or her child and the child's funeral. The fallout would be disasterous for the employer. There are laws in every state of this country preventing discrimination to female employees who are pregnant and have health issues as to themselves and their unborn and born child during the pregnancy process. There are also federal laws on the subject.

Reasonble accomodations for such an employee are mandated by many state laws on the subject. If your company has an employee handbook, there might be reference to alowable leaves of absences for pregnancies, health issues of the employee or his or her child and bereavements.

The termination of this female employee under the circumstances you have written about is not only insensitive, morally wrong, but could very well open up your employer to a legal action by the former employee.

 


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