If you’re like many people, you’ve heard stories of people who have been fired after taking time off work after childbirth. You need to know that employers are not legally allowed to fire you because you took time off work after the birth of a child – but sometimes, it happens. This guide explains.
What if My Employer Fires Me for Taking Time Off Work After Childbirth?
First things first: It’s illegal for your employer to fire you simply because you took time off work after childbirth. However, it’s not illegal for your employer to fire you for other reasons – such as your performance.
There are two major laws designed to protect people from situations like this: the California Family Rights Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The California Family Rights Act, or CFRA, generally applies to everyone working in California, while the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, applies to people who live in states that don’t provide such high levels of protection to workers.
Related: What is CFRA leave?
But What if My Job No Longer Exists When I Get Back?
Your employer is legally required to restore you to your former position. If your former position no longer exists, or if someone else has filled your job, your employer has to give you a comparable one when your leave is over. There may be some exceptions to this, so if you’re not sure about your situation, you should consult with a Los Angeles employment attorney to learn more.
The caveat to that is that you don’t get any “extra” rights that you wouldn’t have gotten if you weren’t on leave. For example, if your whole department gets laid off while you’re on leave, you’ll still be laid off – you don’t get to get your job back (or a comparable job) because nobody in your department currently has a job. You would’ve been laid off whether or not you were on leave.
Types of Time Off That Qualify for Legal Protections
You can’t just tell your employer that you just had a baby and stop showing up. You have to follow your company’s policies for taking childbirth leave.
You’re eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave under the CFRA as long as your employer has more than five employees and:
- You’ve worked for that employer for at least a year
- You’ve accrued more than 1,250 hours of work in the last year
When Can Your Employer Fire You After You Take Time Off Work for Childbirth?
Employers can fire you for many reasons – so just because you were terminated after you took time off work for childbirth, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the reason your employer fired you. Employers can fire you for your performance, for your attendance (when you’re required to be there) and several other reasons – so if you intend to take legal action against your employer because you believe that you were fired for taking time off work for childbirth, it’s up to you and your employment attorney to prove it.
You and your attorney will work together to determine the circumstances around your termination. It can be difficult to prove that your employer fired you just because you took time off to have a baby, to care for a new baby or to bond with a new foster child. Your attorney will probably want to look at your past performance reviews and other evidence that can show your employer had no other reason to fire you.
Related: FMLA denial
Should You Call a Lawyer if You’re Fired After Taking Childbirth Leave?
The bottom line is this: If you believe your employer fired you because you took leave for childbirth, and you were entitled to take leave, you should contact an attorney. The attorney you talk to will evaluate your whole case and let you know whether it’s likely that you’re going to win – and if it’s unlikely, the attorney won’t take your case.
If you want to find out whether you have a case, call us at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below. We’ll set up a free consultation to get you the answers you need.