If I’m pregnant, can my employer fire me or make me go on leave early without pay?

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If I’m pregnant, can my employer fire me or make me go on leave early without pay?

My employer told me that I have to go on leave early (3 months until I have my baby) but they haven’t paid me. They said that I have to be back after my leave but I will still be pregnant.

Asked on May 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, employers may not do this. The law specifically prohibits discriminating against women in employment because they are pregnant. What your employer could legally do is to not allow you to work if due to your pregnancy, you cannot actually (or safely) do the job--for example, if you worked in a stockroom and cannot bend or lift, or worked with chemicals which would be bad for your developing baby, they could prevent you from working. In this case, if you and your company were both covered by Family and Medical Leave Act leave or you had some other way to cover the days you'd be out, they have to hold your position; but otherwise (e.g. no FMLA leave; not enough sick, vacation, or personal days) you could be terminated if you could not (or not safely do your job.)

But if you can do the job and health and safety are not implicated, the employer may not fail to pay you, suspend you, require you to take any leave to which you may be entitled early, etc. Doing so could be illegal discrimination. You should either speak with an employment law attorney about your situation, or contact you state equal or civil rights commission or agency.


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