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Discrimination: Woman fired during maternity leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act has helped West Virginia women have peace of mind to choose to have children and continue with a career. Even though they may not necessarily be paid for their leave, the federal laws allow women to remain at home after giving birth according to doctor's instructions. One woman in another state recently settled a discrimination complaint against her former employer for $60,000 after she was fired during maternity leave.

The woman was employed as a receptionist at a small baking company of about 450 employees when she alerted her employers to her required absence due to her upcoming childbirth. Reportedly, the woman submitted a disability claim prior to birth, estimating her needed time off of work as required by her physician. Additionally, the woman claims to have presented her human resources department with an official doctor's note after she gave birth. Her physician wanted her to remain out of work for eight weeks.

The baking company countered the woman's claim, stating that she did not submit a formal request to use FMLA. The company chose to fire her before her eight weeks were finished. Feeling it was an unjustified firing, the woman filed a civil rights complaint. The company was later ordered to pay the woman $60,000 and $10,000 to the Division of Civil Rights. The company has also been ordered to recreate their leave policy, educate employees and provide anti-discrimination training; it will be monitored for one year to ensure that no discrimination is occurring.

Having a child is an adjustment and mothers require physical healing after childbirth. Fortunately, women are protected by the FMLA to ensure that they can choose to have a family and stay employed. A lawyer in West Virginia familiar with discrimination cases can evaluate the circumstances and inform any mother of the available options for legal recourse. 

Source: thedailyjournal.com, "Vineland resident gets $60K in family leave settlement", Anthony V. Coppola, Aug. 29, 2017

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