When you found out that one of your employees had gotten pregnant, you were happy for her. What you weren’t happy about was that you had just recently hired her and had expected her to take on a large role at the company. The role is complex, and by the time she would feel comfortable in the position, she’d likely be leaving for maternity leave.
You would like to end her employment, but you’re not sure if it’s legal to do so. You can provide some accommodations in the early months of her pregnancy, but you don’t have the money or the time to train two people for the role. When she signed on, she stated that she’d be available for overtime and consistent work, which you don’t think is possible with the pregnancy.
You feel you’re just being realistic, but you don’t want to say or do anything offensive or illegal in this situation. Something you need to study more about is the protection the employee has through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects pregnant women
The Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA, does protect people against discrimination due to pregnancy. Employers need to make reasonable accommodations for their pregnant workers, such as providing reasonable time off for medical appointments or treatments. They need to provide reasonable modifications or adjustments to work areas and work conditions as well.
Whether or not firing the employee is legal will come down to whether you can provide those accommodations. You need to show that providing accommodations would hurt your business if you still want to dismiss the employee, but it’s not a good idea without consulting with your business’s attorney. There may be other options that you can pursue, like training another person to take over the role while your employee is out.
The EEOC website has more on pregnancy discrimination and what you should do as an employer to prevent being accused of violating the law. This might be a complex situation, but your attorney can help you work through it.