Q. If an employee is already on probation when she becomes pregnant, how does an employer continue with measures, including possible discharge? —P.A.
A. Continuing with progressive disciplinary measures, including discharge, is appropriate, just as though the employee had never become pregnant. While an employer can’t discriminate against an employee because she is pregnant, the employee is not excused from compliance with the same standards of work performance expected of all other employees.
If the pregnant employee’s work performance merits further progressive discipline, including discharge, you may proceed. The worker’s pregnancy, however, should never be viewed as a negative factor in judging the employee’s performance and behavior.
Note: Keep in mind that you’ll draw close scrutiny if you take adverse employment action against a pregnant employee, particularly if it occurs about the time the employee discloses her pregnancy, leaves to give birth or returns from leave. If you treat the pregnant worker more severely than others have been treated in similar circumstances, her pregnancy may be perceived as the cause for disciplinary action.
- When discrimination charges are possible, investigate thoroughly before firing
- Carrot or stick? Motivating managers to finish reviews
- Use progressive discipline—or prepare to pay unemployment even if conduct was outrageous
- Even after election, you still need solid reason to discharge nonsupporters
- Cut lawsuit risk by filling vacant position with similar person