The Family Medical Leave Act is a federal provision that allows people to take a hiatus from work for personal reasons and know that their jobs are still secure. But if you need to take time away from work and this benefit hasn’t kicked in yet, is your employer discriminating against you if they let you go?
Amy Zvovushe thinks so. She says that when she announced her pregnancy at work she was asked to resign and recorded a conversation with her company’s human resources department giving her the brush off.
For example, the executive said: “You don’t receive protection under FMLA so technically if you don’t come to work… it doesn’t matter whether you’re having you’re appendix out or you’re having a baby or you’re dealing with a sick person you didn’t show up for work on Monday.” Zvovushe recruited lawyers to help her keep her job, and the company eventually relented, but her case is one of many that do not go as well for mothers-to-be, especially those in non-management roles.
Federal and state law keep workplaces from discriminating against pregnant women in the workplace, and the Americans With Disabilities Act requires employers to give physical accommodation to anyone who cannot do her job due to a disabling limitation. However, pregnancy is not considered a disability, so the stories of women who are asked to resign instead of take maternity leave persist. There is legislation emerging at the state level that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women whose health care providers say they need them but it’s hard to tell how long it will take (and if ever) the idea that pregnancy should be accommodated by employers to become a right and not an opinion. In the eyes of many, what is a natural part life still seems to be incompatible with a woman having a career.