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Example of case where employee was wrongfully terminated because of her request to take maternity leave

Discrimination based on a request for or anticipated use of medical leave, including maternity leave, is illegal under both federal and state laws. The Maine Employee Rights Group handles discrimination cases based on medical leave for employees statewide. We recently assisted a client who became pregnant and was fired by her employer for requesting maternity leave.

Our client was an employee of a call center. Throughout her employment, our client received good reviews and commendations for her work. She received a raise and won “employee of the month” on three occasions. By all accounts, our client was the definition of a model employee. During her employment, our client became pregnant with her first child. Our client requested 8 weeks of medical leave, but her employer was only willing to grant her one week of leave. When our client’s baby was born with a clubfoot, she requested an additional 8 weeks leave and then the option to work from home. Again, her employer denied her request and only agreed to provide her with 4 weeks of unpaid leave. Our client returned to work after 4 weeks of leave and continued to be a model employee.

A little over a year later, our client found out she was pregnant with her second child. She informed her supervisor of her pregnancy and again requested maternity leave. Following our client’s disclosure of her pregnancy her supervisors began to treat her differently and negatively. Her employer hired a new employee to perform the same job as our client approximately one month after she told her supervisor she was pregnant. Her employer posted the advertisement for the position despite the fact that there was no need to hire additional staff at that time. The employer did not consult with our client about hiring a new employee to perform her job duties. Nevertheless our client trained the new employee to do her job. Shortly after training the new employee, our client’s employer terminated our client’s position. When our client asked for the reason for her termination, the employer said it was because of “bad performance.”

With the assistance of the attorneys at the Maine Employee Rights Group, our client was able to bring a lawsuit against her employer for discriminatory employment practices on the basis of sex and under Maine’s Family Medical Leave Requirements. Our experienced attorneys were able to argue that the employer retaliated against our client after she requested maternity leave. We showed that the employer’s alleged reason for our client’s termination, “bad performance”, was pretexual given the timing of our client’s termination and her need for leave. We also argued that the negative behavior exhibited towards our client in connection with her request and need for protected leave also demonstrated a discriminatory animus.

In order to help our client get the compensation she deserved, our attorneys filed a complaint in the Maine District Court alleging violations of the Maine Human Rights Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and under the Maine Family Medical Leave Act. We argued that our client had suffered damages including lost wages, lost benefits, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, injury to reputation, injury to career, and other pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses.

Shortly after the commencement of the lawsuit, the employer requested that the dispute be mediated. At mediation, the employer offered our client a generous settlement package. Our client was not only compensated for the time she was separated from work, but also for the emotional damage she sustained from the discrimination she endured. If you or someone you know has been fired after requesting Family Medical Leave do not hesitate to contact us today at 207.874.0905. The attorneys at the Maine Employee Rights Group represent employees who have been discriminated against because of their pregnancy throughout the state of Maine.