new york pregnancy leave law

Can I Be Fired While On Disability Leave?

Can I be fired while I am on disability leave – what’s the deal?

Short answer – yes, but....

Can I be fired while I am on disability leave –but I’m on short term/long term disability leave?

Short and Long Term disabilities are not job protected.  But, there are cases where you may qualify for leave under the FMLA and/or the ADA.  The FMLA provides you with job protection, and the ADA protects you from discrimination on the basis of your disability.  We detail your protections under the FMLA and ADA below.

Can I be fired while I am on disability leave –isn’t it discrimination?

Not necessarily, but it might be.  There are plenty of legal reasons for an employer to fire you.  One reason may be that you are on leave indefinitely and that cannot be accommodated by the employer.  Another reason may be economic/business necessity.  Just because you were terminated and disabled/on leave is not enough – you need to prove that you were terminated because you were disabled/on leave.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability (or perceived disability).  The ADA also requires the employer engage in an “interactive process” to determine whether your disability can be “reasonably accommodated.”  Sometimes, a leave of absence may be a reasonable accommodation – at a minimum, your employer is required to investigate/consider (i.e. engage in the interactive process) whether this is possible.

Ultimately, it comes down to why the employer made the decision to terminate.  If the decision is made because of your disability, it very well may be illegal.

Can I be fired while I am on disability leave –what about the FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that applies to employers that have 50 or more employees. Under the FMLA certain employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain reasons, like a serious health condition.  Although FMLA is “job-protected” (meaning you should be returned to your prior or equivalent position), you can still be terminated while on FMLA if the reason is not related to the leave and is not otherwise not discriminatory.   If your employer can show that the decision to terminate is unrelated to the FMLA leave, it is legal.

I was fired while I was on disability leave - What should I do?

Call us!  Or e-mail.  We can help. 

Pregnancy Discrimination in NYC

Pregnancy Discrimination in NYC:  What laws protect pregnant women from pregnancy discrimination in NYC?  New York City has recently enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers in New York City who employ at least four employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. Striving to prevent pregnancy discrimination in NYC, the new law mandates that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” to workers who are pregnant or who have a medical condition related to pregnancy and childbirth. Such accommodations could include “bathroom breaks, leave for a period of disability arising from childbirth, breaks to facilitate increased water intake, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, and assistance with manual labor, among other things.”  The employer will not have to provide any accommodation if they prove that  (1) the accommodations would be an “undue hardship”; (2)  the pregnant worker would not be able to “satisfy the essential requisites” of her job even with the accommodation; or (3) the employer has fewer than four employees.

While there are three different federal laws that are applicable to protect an employee from pregnancy discrimination in NYC, the New York City council found these laws may be insufficient to help pregnant workers retain their jobs and therefore enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law provides protection for a  small number of pregnant workers such as women who have severe pregnancy related disorders although the range of pregnancy-related conditions that are covered is not really clear.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is another federal law that requires employers to treat pregnant employees the same way they treat other employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.” But under this law, employers are not required to provide any special accommodations for pregnant women.

The Family Medical Leave Act is the third federal law that allows employees (who are covered employees under the FMLA) to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to address “serious health condition[s]” that make them unable to work.

Therefore, federal laws may be inadequate to protect workers who need minor, pregnancy related accommodations to remain working.   The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act works to protect this category of workers and helps prevent pregnancy discrimination in NYC.


New York Pregnancy Leave - What Are Employees Entitled To?

In New York, pregnancy leave is not guaranteed by law.  Accordingly, there is no obligation for an employer to provide its employees with any amount of leave for pregnancy. In other words, there is no provision for New York Pregnancy Leave.  Unless the company has a policy of providing such leave, they are not required to do so by law.

Nevertheless, many employees are entitled to request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a newborn child pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act.  For more information about such family or medical leave , please click on one of the articles below. A woman may also be entitled to disability benefits for the period of time that her doctor certifies that she is unable to work, up to 26 weeks. NY Work Comp Law sec. 201(9)(B).   

For more information:

Famly and Medical Leave in New York

FMLA Notice Requirements

If you have any additional questions about New York pregnancy leave, please contact us for a free consultation.  Our experienced lawyers have many years helping pregnant families navigate through the often confusing waters of requesting - and taking - pregnancy leave.