Maternity Leave Laws
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St. Paul-based White Way Dry Cleaners has paid $42,250 to a former employee who filed an EEOC pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The case arose when Michelle Johnson was transferred from her job pressing clothes to a counter position after telling her bosses she was pregnant. White Way had a longstanding policy of transferring pregnant employees to protect them from chemicals used in the dry cleaning process.
Employers are often confused about how much absenteeism they must allow for employees who haven’t worked long enough to be covered by the FMLA, and who aren’t otherwise entitled to miss work as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The bottom line is that if you treat everyone equally, you can set high attendance expectations—and fire those who don’t meet them.
When it comes to employment lawsuits, HR is a lot like flying an airplane: The most risky parts of the trip are at the takeoff (hiring) and the landing (dismissal). With hiring, you can limit the employment-law risks by following the legally safe steps and training supervisors to do the same.
Some employees try to fabricate a lawsuit by resigning and then alleging that some form of discrimination made their working conditions so intolerable that they had no choice but to quit. The name of this claim: constructive discharge. Fortunately for employers, it takes more than a few isolated comments to create intolerable conditions. And, as the following case shows, the fear that working conditions will become intolerable isn’t enough to justify quitting before things get bad at work.