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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 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.


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