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Is it legal to be fired after returning from maternity leave

1 Answers. Asked on May 11th, 2017 on Labor and Employment - North Carolina
More details to this question:
Two days after returning to teaching at a private school from maternity leave I was evaluated by my leave replacement. The classroom routine and curriculum had changed while I was out on leave. I had a meeting to discuss how and why Hingis were changed but no evaluation form was given. Three weeks after returning I was terminated. At the termination meeting I was given the evaluation form.
Answers Showing 1 out of 1
Answered on May 12th, 2017 at 5:31 AM

This is an employment-at-will state which means you can be fired for any reason and there is no liability for the employer unless there is an unlawful motive for the action taken against you. There are generally only two forms of unlawful motives: unlawful discrimination or unlawful retaliation. Discrimination in employment is unlawful if it is due to race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability or age 40 or older. Retaliation in employment is unlawful only if you engaged in one of a handful of "legally protected" activities and were fired for engaging in that activity. If either of these was the motive for the termination, then you may have a claim for unlawful termination.

In your specific situation, there is no law that provides specifically for maternity leave.  However, the FMLA protects your job while out on maternity leave as long as you are eligible for FMLA.  If you were terminated due to your use of FMLA, then you could have a claim. Additionally, there may be some situations where you could claim that you were terminated due to your sex if the maternity leave was the reason for the termination.

I am an experienced attorney focusing on employment law in North Carolina and Tennessee. This post/response is not meant to constitute legal advice.

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