Is it illegal for a pregnant woman to be fired because she was having complications?

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Is it illegal for a pregnant woman to be fired because she was having complications?

My Sister is pregnant, she alerted her boss and let her know she was having complications. The boss told her she should just resign. My sister refused, and then they fired her saying she never let them know.

Asked on March 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

On the  one hand, it is illegal to discriminate against a woman in employment--including firing her--because she is pregant. On the other hand, if pregnancy-related complications either prevent a woman from doing her job, or makes it dangerous for her to do it (such as dangerous to her, her baby), then the employer may be able to legally terminate her: an employer is not required to pay someone for not working, and is not required to expose itself to liability.

For example:

* If you sister works in a warehouse or stock room, but cannot lift or stand for extended periods, they may be able to terminate her.

* If the complications include creating the chance of passing out, then if your sister operates vehicles or machinery for her job, they might be able to terminate her.

So while the norm would be to not fire a woman because she is pregnant, there are situations where it may be legal. Since the facts are critical, your sister should consult with an employment law attorney to discuss her situation in detail.


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