A mom writes in asking for advice about her options after being let go by her employer while on maternity leave. This mom says her job was aware she was pregnant and due at a certain time. She ended up delivering a month early, at which point she called to inform her work and never heard back. She says that after a traumatic birth and not-insignificant stay at the hospital, she came home to find a letter stating her maternity leave was only 12 days long. She “assumed” this was incorrect, but when she contacted her company weeks later about returning, she was told she’d been “voluntarily terminated.” What can she do?
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A member of the community asks:
“How should I handle how my employer treated me while on maternity leave?
I was let go from my previous employer while on maternity leave. I let them know that it was getting close to my due date ( I was a month out at this point) and confirmed with my supervisor that I would have to go on maternity leave soon. He knew, and so did HR and the people that handle our leave of absence requests. Welp! Baby girl came a month early, February of this year, and I called them as soon as I was told I was having my baby. They never reached back out to me.
I was in the hospital myself for six days, recovering from an emergency c-section, and my daughter was in the NICU for 12 days with some head trauma. During this time, I was unaware of the people handling my leave case only gave me two weeks of leave? So, finally, after being in the hospital for 12 straight days, I come home to the letter saying I only had the two weeks.
I assumed (and we all know what happens when we assume) that my company knew I was on maternity leave, and two weeks was ridiculous, so around the 6-7 week mark, I was ready to go back to work, only to be told I was “voluntarily terminated.” And unemployment is telling my employer is saying that I just never showed up back to work after the two weeks…. has anyone else ever had an issue with an employer like this, and what did you do?”
Community Advice for This Mom Who Was Let Go From Her Job While On Maternity Leave
To see what advice the Mamas Uncut Facebook community has for this mom in need, read the comments of the post embedded below.
The community offered this mom in need a lot of great advice. Read some of their responses below.
“I hate to say this but it’s your responsibility to make sure you qualify for FMLA and it’s your responsibility to file for FMLA. If you’re given two weeks it’s also your responsibility to protest that. I’m sorry you’re going through this though.”
“Did you apply for regular/personal leave or FMLA? If you didn’t apply for FMLA they don’t have to guarantee your job. If you had a letter stating two weeks and just assumed they knew it’d be longer without following up on the letter you got, then yeah, essentially you just didn’t show back up, which does away with your unemployment. It sounds like you failed to properly communicate with your employer.”
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of ‘depends’ in this instance. If you still have an employee handbook, get it out and look through it. Look at 1. The length of time for maternity leave and 2. The procedure you needed to follow…
… Unfortunately, if you didn’t follow the proper procedure and didn’t check back in with them; then they had the legal grounds to fire you, and unemployment has the legal grounds to deny unemployment…
… Your best bet is to file an appeal….but to get it approved you need some kind of proof that you did in fact follow procedures and they violated their own policies.”
“I’m not sure what state you live in, but as an HR manager, I know that if you were employed for at least 12 months and worked 1,250 hours you would qualify for up to 12 weeks of FMLA. That would be unpaid, unfortunately. Your HR department should have given you paperwork for your doctor to complete and it would be up to you to return the paperwork to them to ensure you had a job to return to.”
“Unfortunately your lack of communication gave them the right to terminate. It was probably considered job abandonment. But I would try to file an appeal with unemployment. Even if technically you were in the wrong you still may get them to approve you for unemployment.”
“You should be protected under FMLA if your doc filled out the paperwork. You need to talk to an attorney in your state. Most states are ‘at will’ which means they can fire you without reason or explanation. Find an attorney that does no charge initial consults.”
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