If my employer is going to try and suspend me or fire me due to my pregnancy, what can I do?

UPDATED: May 29, 2012

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If my employer is going to try and suspend me or fire me due to my pregnancy, what can I do?

I’m 6 months pregnant and was to by one of my nurses to go back to the ER on Saturday night because I tested positive for another urinary tract infection, which for some can cause preterm labor. It was also a night that I had to work, so I let my employer know that I would not be able to come into work Saturday night. Now I think that she is either going to try and suspend me without pay or fire me for this. Can she do that?

Asked on May 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are missing days from work and do not 1) have vacation, sick, personal, or other PTO days to use to make good your absence, and/or 2) do not have the express approval or permission from your employer to miss work, then yes--your employer can probably suspend or terminate you. While employer may not discriminate against female employees on the basis of pregnancy, that means they cannot fire, demote, suspend, etc. you simply because you are pregnant; it does not mean that they cannot take action against employees who miss work without permission or approval, or without using some paid time off (PTO) that they earned or accrued as part of their compensation.

You being pregnant does not, by itself, give you the right to miss work, except to the extent that both you and your employer are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act or one of the closely similar state laws and you take leave in accordance with its provisions. In brief, to be covered under FMLA, your employer must have at least 50 employees, you must have worked  at least 12 months for them, and you must also have worked at least 1,250 hours during the past 12 months. To see the FMLA elegibility criteria and other rules in detail, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's website. If you are eligile for FMLA leave, if you take leave that complies with its requirements, you should not be terminated or suffer other retaliation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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