The federal and state governments protect pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace. If you are pregnant and seeking maternity leave under FMLA, you have rights as long as you follow the proper procedures for requesting maternity leave. Your employer must be notified at least 30 days before you are taking maternity leave. This gives the employer time to fill your position, temporarily, if necessary. It is also a requirement for taking the 12 week FMLA leave provided by law. If you have followed all FMLA guidelines and your employer continues to deny maternity leave, there are ways to resolve the situation.
Be calm and Respectful
After reading through FMLA guidelines and ensuring you have followed all prerequisites for FMLA leave, talk with your employer once more about maternity leave. Gently remind your employer that maternity leave is covered by FMLA. Present your employer with information from the FMLA website to reinforce your position.
Seek Help From the Labor Department
There are regional offices for your state labor department. Contact the labor department and explain your situation. Make sure to include the fact that you followed all guidelines addressed by FMLA before requesting maternity leave. A representative from the Labor Department will contact your employer on your behalf to resolve the situation. Most employers are not comfortable denying maternity leave after being contacted by the Labor Department, but there are some that continue to deny maternity leave.
Seeking Legal Counsel
If maternity leave continues to be denied after the Labor Department contacts your employer, contact the Labor Department once more. The case will be moved into an investigation. If the investigation finds the employer denying maternity leave unlawfully, the Labor Department may choose to take your employer to court.
If the case goes to court, you may need an employee-advocate lawyer. Lawyer fees may be postponed until the case is resolved, at which time the employer may be required to pay said fees if the case is decided against the employer.
Financial Support During Trial
Trials can last many months, so it is very important to plan out personal and family finances. Short term disability payments are not decided by your employer, so file for short term disability payments as required by your insurance company despite the denial of maternity leave.
FMLA protects women from discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against, seek advice and help from your regional Labor Department.