In this article, we will address the challenges faced by a pregnant employee in New Jersey regarding maternity leave, employment termination, attendance policies, and accommodations. We will explore the legal rights and options available to protect the employee's rights during this crucial period.
Understanding the Situation:
The employee is preparing to go on maternity leave but has not worked at their current job for the required 12-month period to be eligible for FMLA coverage. The employer is refusing to provide a separation or termination letter, claiming that the employee is resigning, even though the employee has not expressed any intention to do so. Additionally, the employee has been written up for exceeding the company's allowed number of absences and is at risk of termination. They have a high-risk pregnancy with supporting medical documentation, but the employer has not accommodated their needs and has been uncooperative regarding attendance issues.
Legal Rights and Options:
1. New Jersey Maternity Leave: While FMLA may not apply in this case, New Jersey has its own state-specific laws that provide certain protections for pregnant employees. The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) may offer job protection and leave benefits to eligible employees.
2. Request for Accommodations: The employee should formally request reasonable accommodations for their high-risk pregnancy. This can include modifications to their schedule, duties, or work environment to ensure their health and safety. The employer is legally obligated to engage in an interactive process to discuss and consider reasonable accommodations.
3. Seeking Legal Advice: It is advisable for the employee to consult with an employment attorney who specializes in labor laws and pregnancy discrimination. The attorney can assess the specific circumstances, review any relevant policies and documentation, and provide guidance on the best course of action.
4. Documenting Incidents: It is essential for the employee to maintain a detailed record of all incidents related to their pregnancy, including any conversations, requests, denials, or discriminatory actions taken by the employer. This documentation will be crucial in building a strong case, if necessary.
Facing challenges regarding maternity leave, employment termination, attendance policies, and accommodations can be stressful for a pregnant employee. However, it is important to understand that there are legal protections in place to ensure fair treatment. By familiarizing themselves with New Jersey's maternity leave laws, requesting accommodations, seeking legal advice, and documenting incidents, the employee can take proactive steps to protect their rights and ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy journey.