Carole Smith, who worked for property
But Normandy had demanded she return four weeks after the birth or she would lose her job. When Smith failed to return in four weeks, the firm fired her. She sued under the Civil Rights Act.
At trial, Normandy claimed Smith refused to follow company rules by not informing the company of her return date. The jury was not convinced and awarded her $600,000 in compensatory damages. Then it assessed the company $1.2 million in punitive damages.
Pending an appeal, the company has rehired Smith as a leasing agent.
Note: Federal law bars employers from discriminating against workers based on pregnancy. That includes expectant fathers, too. Anytime an employee is off work for the birth of a child, employers must stay in touch and thoroughly document all actions it takes regarding when the employee will return to work.
Advice: Juries are naturally inclined to sympathize with new parents. Be able to show you followed all the rules … or be prepared to lose such lawsuits.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- 10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review
- Judge: 'Language and national origin not interchangeable'
- Warn managers: Don't mention FMLA during discussion about discharge
- Establish a company policy on e-mail deletion, retention
- How to Collect Employee Medical Info Under New FMLA Rules