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Employee is pregnant? You can still discipline or fire if she violates your policies

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in Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Maternity Leave Laws,Performance Reviews

Federal courts don’t have much patience for faulty logic. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently issued a particularly stinging rebuke to a nurse whose pregnancy discrimination case hinged on the “fallacious syllogism” that “I was fired; I was pregnant when I was fired; therefore, I was fired because I was pregnant.”

Recent case: D’Juna Peters was a registered nurse who worked in Mount Sinai Hospital’s transplant unit until she was terminated. The hospital’s reasons: poor performance and exhibiting a bad attitude with her co-workers and patients.

But the nurses union filed a successful grievance, and Peters was reinstated. When she returned to work, she was pregnant and asked to take maternity leave when the child was born. The hospital granted her request.

Meanwhile, patients continued to complain about Peters and she failed to immediately report a medical emergency. She was fired for good.

She sued, alleging she must have been fired because she was pregnant and had asked for maternity leave.

The court tossed out Peters’ case. It said employers that have a legitimate reason to terminate employees don’t have to worry that their decision will be treated as pregnancy discrimination just because a pregnancy coincided with the termination. That was especially true when no one in management said anything negative to Peters about her pregnancy. (Peters v. Mount Sinai Hospital, No. 08-Civ-7250, SD NY, 2010)

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