Can I Be Terminated While on Maternity or Paternity Leave? By Dan Atkerson on December 29, 2023

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There are legal protections in place that prevent companies from firing parents for taking maternity or paternity leave. However, employers could come up with ways to justify termination that still fit within the letter of the law. Employers may also retaliate against you upon your return to the workplace.

There are so many factors to keep in mind when it comes to pregnancy discrimination and parental leave retaliation. It's always a good idea to speak with an employment lawyer in the Dallas or Allen, TX, area if you suspect you've been targeted by your employer because you decided to take paternity or maternity leave.

Below are a few key points about taking leave for your pregnancy or to bond with your baby after childbirth. I encourage you to contact my law office if you feel you've been the victim of wrongful termination or any violation of your unpaid leave protections.

Your Parental Leave Is Protected by the FMLA

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law in 1993. The FMLA allows eligible employees at covered workplaces to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons related to parental leave:

  • The birth and care of a newborn within one year of birth
  • The care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health problem
  • A medical condition that prevents an employee from performing their job

Employers Cannot Discourage or Prevent You from Parental Leave

As part of the leave protections provided by the FMLA, your employer is not allowed to prevent or discourage you from taking your unpaid leave.

If your employer has tried to dissuade you from taking unpaid paternity or maternity leave, you should speak with a lawyer who handles FMLA disputes like myself.

You Don't Have to Take Your Protected Leave All at Once

One last important point to make about FMLA protections: you do not have to take all 12 weeks of annual unpaid leave at one time. You can take FMLA leave intermittently depending on your situation, allowing you to take a few weeks off based on the needs of your child or spouse.

All legal protections are in place if you decide to take intermittent parental leave throughout the year.


Speak with a Lawyer If You Were Fired Because of Parental Leave

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FMLA Protections Extend to Remote Workers

The FMLA protections apply to both in-person employees and remote workers.

According to a Bloomberg report from August of this year, the U.S. Department of Labor determined that a remote employee is eligible for protected FMLA leave as long as they "report or receive assignments from a qualifying worksite."

The Department of Labor's guidance suggests that there should be no differentiation in protections whether an employee has a physical workplace, a hybrid workplace, or is a full-time remote employee.

That means someone in a different part of the country can qualify for FMLA leave even if their workplace is technically based out of the Dallas area. 

You Can Still Be Let Go for Other Reasons During Parental Leave

Even though your parental leave is legally protected, your employer can still lay you off or fire you during your FMLA leave so long as it's for reasons not associated with FMLA leave.

To put it another way, you could be legally let go during FMLA leave due to financial setbacks and cost-cutting measures or issues related to poor job performance. In these cases, there may still be cause for a wrongful termination case against your company depending on the nature of your termination.

Employees May Cite Reasons Other Than Parental Leave to Justify Termination

It's also important to keep in mind that your company may cite budget shortfalls as the reason you were let go, but that may be the company's way of disguising its own parental leave retaliation and pregnancy discrimination.

In other words, it is illegal to fire someone for taking FMLA leave, but it is not illegal to let that same person go by stating the termination was due to performance issues at work.

Working with a skilled employment law attorney in the Dallas area means you'll have someone who can easily identify this kind of subterfuge. I can look at your performance reviews and supervisor comments regarding your performance, or potentially note patterns of termination that don't fit the narrative you were given.


Discuss Your Case with an Employment Lawyer

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Your parental leave is protected, and you have rights as a worker. We can hold companies accountable for their discriminatory and retaliatory actions.
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Parental Leave Could Lead to Employer Retaliation

It's also worth noting that taking FMLA leave can lead to different kinds of employer retaliation apart from termination.

In these kinds of cases, you could be punished for taking protected parental leave in some of the following ways:

  • Being refused a raise
  • Getting passed up for a promotion
  • Demotion within the company hierarchy
  • Cuts in wages or regular hours
  • Changes in job duties and expectations

How My Law Office Can Help You

I have been fighting for the rights of Texas workers since 1984. My decades in legal practice give me a nuanced understanding of Texas labor statutes as well as federal protections granted by the FMLA and other workplace laws.

Representation on a Contingency Fee Basis

When my Allen employment law and workplace discrimination firm takes your FMLA case, you won't have to pay a retainer or any upfront legal fees. That's because I work on a contingency fee basis.

In simple terms, contingency fee representation means you don't pay me anything unless I can successfully resolve your employment law case.

This allows working people in the Dallas and Fort Worth area to get quality legal representation for labor law matters. You can concentrate on raising your family and saving your money while I try to secure a settlement or win damages in court.

Request a Legal Consultation Today

If you were fired for taking FMLA leave, contact our law office in Allen, TX. We can answer all of your questions and let you know what steps you can take next in your case. I can help you whether you live in Dallas or any other part of Texas.



Attorney Dan A. Atkerson

Dan A. Atkerson
Dan A. Atkerson has worked as a civil employment law attorney in DFW since 1984. He has extensive knowledge of state and federal labor statutes and is a member of both the State Bar of Texas and the Dallas Bar Association.

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Dan Atkerson

Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Dan A. Atkerson has been protecting the rights of North Texas employees for over nearly four decades. He is affiliated with several prestigious legal organizations, including: 

  • The State Bar of Texas
  • The Dallas Bar Association
  • The United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit
  • Texas Supreme Court and all Texas trial and appellate courts
  • Texas federal courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas

Through aggressive, knowledgeable representation, he has helped clients all over the state reach significant verdicts and settlements. To schedule a consultation at our law firm, request an appointment online or call us at (214) 383-3606.

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