Can I be fired for a Maternity or Paternity Leave?


Have you ever witnessed someone getting fired because of maternity or paternity leave or while on leave? If you are wondering whether it is legally correct for a company to fire someone while on maternity or paternity leave, you must know that it is legally accepted. It might feel very stressful when you welcome your baby and simultaneously lose your job.

Even though such cases are not seen as frequently when you are on maternity or paternity leave and do not have a job to return to, it still happens. There have been cases where people were fired on taking a leave or during this leave. On the contrary, you cannot be fired by any employer just because you are going on maternity or paternity leave.

Is Termination Legal During Maternity or Paternity Leave?

According to the law, you can get fired on maternity or paternity leave, but there are specific rules and limitations. Many regulations under the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act protect you. These laws protect all employees from wrongful termination based on their parental status.

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But you can be fired on your maternal or paternal leave if there is a situation in which you would have been fired if you weren’t on leave. For instance, if you have committed a fireable offense, your job is being eliminated, or there were mass layoffs, your termination will be completely legal. But the employer’s allegations and termination seem pretextual, so that the termination will be illegal.  

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Can Men be fired for Taking Paternity Leave?

Though the safest and most suitable answer to this question might be a resounding no, some cases suggest otherwise. In a recent case, Steven Van Soeren, a Disney product designer, was fired shortly after he took paternity leave. When he sued his employer under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the federal judge claimed he wasn’t protected as the pregnancy was not something he could experience.

Unlawful gender discrimination under the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964 will be considered if mothers are given paid maternity leave, but fathers are not given paid paternity leave. In addition, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act states that new parents can take up to twelve weeks of job-protected yet unpaid leave.

In 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled that refusing to grant paternity leave is sex discrimination. As a result of everything we’ve seen so far, it seems that it’s entirely unlawful to fire someone for taking paternity leave.

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Summing Up

So, by the above-mentioned legal information, we can say that it is illegal to terminate any person solely because they are taking maternity or paternity leave. But, at the same time, the termination will only be acceptable and legal if the person would have been terminated if they were not even on leave. 

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