You did it! After months of weird cravings, swollen feet, and sleepless nights, your new bundle of joy has arrived. Though it's been a long road, you're thrilled to finally meet your little one. But before you know it, maternity leave is over and it's time to return to work. You show up excited to share photos of your baby and jump back into projects.
Instead, your boss hits you with a demotion, saying customers won't want to work with you now that you're a mom. Or you get transferred to an undesirable assignment with no explanation. New moms already juggle enough without unfair penalties due to pregnancy and motherhood. But thankfully, you have legal protections.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) safeguards new moms against just these types of discriminatory actions upon returning from maternity leave. Under the FMLA, it is illegal for your employer to punish you simply for taking time off authorized by the law. You're entitled to the same salary, benefits, position, and duties as before going on leave.
Specifically, the FMLA prohibits employers from using an employee's maternity leave against them in any hiring, promotional, disciplinary, or retaliatory decisions. This means any changes made without justification upon return from leave - like demotions, schedule changes, reassignments, or firing - could be considered illegal pregnancy discrimination.
The FMLA protects against all forms of discrimination, including demotions, undesirable transfers, loss of benefits/pay, modified duties, changes to work hours, probation, bad performance reviews connected to taking leave, and wrongful termination.
If you experience any suspicious or adverse actions after coming back from maternity leave, document everything thoroughly as evidence. Consult an employment law attorney, who can assess your situation and provide guidance on the best legal options under the FMLA.
You worked hard and made sacrifices during pregnancy. Don't lose ground now. If you experience discrimination at work after maternity leave, the FMLA provides important protections. With the right legal support, new moms don't have to choose between their careers and family. Focus on your new baby without unfair treatment putting a damper on the experience. Today's working mothers can have both a fulfilling job and motherhood - the law makes sure of it.