Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in Florida

Laid off while on maternity leave

I was recently laid off by my company of 3 years while on maternity leave. The company has at least 300-500 employees. The reason provided was that my posiiton had been eliminated. At least two other employees within the department were also let go. My question is... was it legal for them to terminate me given the fact that I was not let go for an unsatisfactory performace reason?I was also not provided an explanation as to how they selected me for termination among at least 8 other employees who share the same job title as myself, including 1 who was a recent new hire. I have never been written up by this company and was pomoted at least 3 times within the 3 years I was employed. In addition I was not provided with any sort of severence package. I also would like to know, in the event my previous position become available again by law shouldn't the company make the position available to me before attempting to hire an outside person since I was not terminated for unsatisfactory performance?

Asked on 10/27/04, 10:54 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Re: Laid off while on maternity leave

If the position was truly eliminated, then it is probably legal. However, if someone else takes over the position (rather than the duties being eliminated or spread among the remaining employees), then it is likely pregnancy discrimination.

In any case, there is no right to be recalled if the position is rehired later, unless you were out on FMLA leave (I'd have to check the exact law on this) or are covered by a labor contract.

Also, there is no requirement to pay severance unless you have a contract that says otherwise.

The whole thing is a bit fishy, though, since you were out on pregnancy leave. Granted, two others were also let go, but that does not necessarily mean that no discrimination is present.

You might consider filing a pregnancy discrimination claim (it is free, and you do not need an attorney - just call up the local EEOC office or the state or couunty human rights commission). In that case, the company will have to explain its action and you will be able to see what exactly happened. (There may also be FMLA claims if you were out on FMLA leave. For example, if you would have been able to transfer but were denied that right, it might be an FMLA violation. FMLA claims can be made to the US DOL.)

If you feel you wnat an attorney to help, call or email directly and we can talk about the case.

Good luck.

Jeffrey L. Sheldon, Esquire

The Sheldon Law Firm*

17804 St. Lucia Isle Drive

Tampa, FL 33647


(f) 813.986.7489

(Admitted in Fl., MD, D.C., and Pa.)

[email protected]

* The author is a government attorney and maintains "The Sheldon Law Firm" for purposes of giving pro bono (free) advice and other limited purposes allowed by law.

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Answered on 10/28/04, 12:19 am

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