Your an employer about to fire one of your employees for her unsatisfactory performance when she tells you she’s pregnant. Can you still fire her?
Fear of Pregnancy Discrimination
If your employee has just announced she’s pregnant prior to you letting her know you’re firing her, you might want to hold off. Here’s why: you’re at significant risk of being accused of pregnancy discrimination. If she has not signed an employment contract that restricts when and how she is to be discharged, you could still fire her, but you might not want to run the risk of being accused of pregnancy discrimination. This is especially possible if she is fired right after informing you of her pregnancy.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978. It prohibit employers from discriminating against pregnant employees. There were 5,797 complaints of pregnancy discrimination filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 2011.
An important lesson to gain from any employment law dispute, regardless of which side you are on, is the need for documentation. If an employee is not performing to a satisfactory level, that should be noted immediately, whether it is the first infraction or last. The employee should also be informed of they lacking performance and thus given a chance to improve. In the example of pregnancy discrimination above, if the woman had been repeatedly informed that her performance was not good enough, and there was thorough documentation that proved she had been warned, then her ability to file a solid case of pregnancy discrimination would have been lessened.
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