When a young mother begins missing work, a manager may think she isn’t taking her career seriously enough. Expressing that sentiment may provoke your employee to sue.
Recent case: Heather Weightman had an attendance problem. When she returned fromand continued to miss work, her boss pulled her aside and told her, “You need to make a decision, either you are going to be a mom, or have a career.”
When she was later terminated for excessive unexcused absences, she sued, alleging sex and family-responsibility discrimination.
She based her case on the manager’s comments. Fortunately, absences entirely unrelated to her family responsibilities were excessive enough for the court to uphold the discharge despite the ill-advised comments. (Weightman v. Bank of New York Mellon, No. 09-0929, WD PA, 2011)
- Ignoring complaints: Bad strategy likely to backfire
- OK to terminate pregnant employee sometimes; the PDA merely requires equal treatment
- How not to handle FMLA leave: Bank learns the hard way that following the law isn't optional
- Choose your words carefully to avoid 'accidental contracts'
- Sometimes, pregnancy rises to a disability