When an employee is pregnant or taking leave as a new parent, they are protected under some parts of the law from being discriminated against or fired. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 makes it unlawful to fire a person because they exercised their right to take leave.
While an employer cannot fire an employee simply because they are pregnant or because they took leave under the FMLA, this does not mean that they cannot be fired during this period for other legitimate reasons. Therefore, if you are considering firing an employee while they are on maternity leave, it is important that you understand how the law works in the state of Pennsylvania. You should have a plan so that you are not accused of wrongful termination or discrimination.
Where to start in the employment termination process
It is always best to begin by having clear and justified reasons to fire the employee. For example, if you want to fire the employee for poor performance, you should be able justify this accusation of poor performance either through statistics, deficient performance reviews or by citing instances where they performed poorly.
In addition to having reasons, you should be able to show that these reasons are severe enough to justify terminating their employment. Doing this is very important, as the process will show that the employee's decision to take FMLA leave was not part of the reason for their termination.
If you wish to avoid employment litigation in the state of Pennsylvania, it is important that you keep up-to-date on the law.