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How to treat a job dismissal during maternity leave

Employees in the Sacramento-area might be shocked to discover that there are still some companies who illegally fire female employees for taking maternity leave. With the concept of maternity leave and the perimeters surrounding it being well-documented, it is somewhat surprising that some managers choose to ignore this.

However, when it comes time to decide whether or not to file a wrongful termination claim upon being let go, an employee has to take a few things into consideration. Not everyone who is dismissed from a job stands on the legal grounds for a lawsuit. In fact, a company can legally dismiss an employee when that company deems the employee's services are no longer needed.

It's a whole different ballgame if an employer fires an employee based solely on the fact that they took time off for maternity leave. This is a direct violation of the Human Rights Code, which outlaws discrimination of any kind. In this case, it would be discrimination against women.

Unfortunately, this can be tough to prove. Most employers are not going to issue a dismissal letter that communicate to an employee that they are being fired for taking maternity leave. Employers can always deny these charges. Courts generally look for hard evidence and credible witnesses, which can both be hard to come by in these cases.

The best way to prove a firing was the result of taking maternity is by sending a documented correspondence to management to further clarify why the dismissal is taking place. The employer's response could help build evidence.

If an employee was fired during the time she took maternity leave, it is probably not a coincidence. However, if that employee committed other acts that harmed the company during this time frame, it is tougher to pin blame to an employer.

Source: The Meaford Independent, "Small talk: Fired while on maternity leave," Jordan Farkas, Feb. 17, 2012

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