Workers on medical and maternity leave are fired, yes it’s legal: NPR

The layoffs hit some who are on parental or medical leave. It is legal for employers to fire an employee on leave as long as there is a legitimate business reason.

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The layoffs hit some who are on parental or medical leave. It is legal for employers to fire an employee on leave as long as there is a legitimate business reason.

Paulo Sosa/Getty Images/IEM

Kate Fan was in bed last November, recovering from major stomach surgery, when her phone started blowing up.

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, announced the first round of layoffs: 11,000 employees, about 13% of the company; will lose their jobs.

Fan, a mother of three, has been a recruitment manager at Meta for almost five years.

But in the midst of medical leave, she suddenly found herself without a job. His layoff notice came when he was taking pain medication in and out of sleep.

“By the time I got up and checked my laptop, [I] was already completely locked down,” he says.

Yes, it is legal to fire an employee on leave

With the recent wave of layoffs in tech, media and elsewhere, stories of people being laid off while on medical or parental leave are multiplying.

“I was washing baby bottles and a bad Wiggles song was stuck in my head … when I got the message,” says Mackenzie Gregory, internal communications specialist at Salesforce. Recently released There is LinkedIn. “I thought I was protected because I was on maternity leave … apparently I was wrong.”

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In fact, there’s nothing illegal about firing an employee in the middle of the holidays, “if there’s sufficient documentation that there’s a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason based on business,” says Ariana Morey, a labor and employment attorney at Scarinci Hollenbeck. .

In other words, companies cannot use an employee’s medical or parental leave as a reason to fire that person.

“They should be treated as if they were working normally,” says Maurey.

However, some employers wait until someone’s leave is over to process the termination. Sometimes, they want to give the person more time to get back on their feet. Other times, it’s a costly opportunity to avoid Legal struggle.

Even if a company has a legitimate business reason for firing someone, there’s still a risk that an employee could bring a discrimination claim, Mouré says.

Tech companies are cutting loose liberally to ease catch-up

Google has come under fire recently CNBC published a story With the headline “Google Pays Rest of Maternity and Medical Leave to Fired Employees.” A group of more than 100 laid-off workers is calling for Google to honor the paid leave it has already approved, CNBC reported.

This story is a “Google, do better!” generated such comments. “What happened to the human factor?” “Profit over people!”

In a statement, Google pointed to a generous severance package for all laid-off employees, including Google stock and full salary during the 60+ day notice period. A separate severance payment of at least 16 weeks’ pay.

At Meta, which announced a second round of layoffs in March, Fan says a large WhatsApp group has formed around the issue, with some affected employees trying to figure out if they can negotiate a different end date, while others are looking for support.

So far, fans haven’t heard of anyone getting extra time due to being on leave. He says the severance package offered by Meta is very generous and includes six months of health care.

“It’s amazing and very effective,” says the fan.

After all, employers in the U.S. don’t need layoffs, and many laid-off workers end up with nothing.

“Tossed and then ghosted”

Still, even with a financial cushion, Fan says the past few months have been stressful. After the surgery, she stayed in bed for several weeks, only getting up to shower or go to the doctor. But instead of focusing on her recovery, she dealt with headaches like getting her cell phone number back.

And she was worried about anyone else on her team losing their jobs. His access to the internal chat system is gone.

“It felt like you were dumped and then demonized very quickly,” the fan says.

She knows she’s lucky she doesn’t have to jump into full-time work right away. He still has health coverage until July and has been doing small contract work while he rebuilds his stamina.

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Given the mass layoffs across the tech industry, he worries about finding a new job. He has been a recruiter in technology for nearly a decade. But who needs a recruiter when hiring is on hold?

Advice for newly laid-off parents

For many new parents who have just been laid off, Carla Leon has some advice.

In 2020, Leon was in the middle of four months of paid maternity leave as an account manager at Booking.com.

The joy her new-born daughter brought her was suddenly mixed with the fear of having no job to return to.

“Try to enjoy your baby as much as you can,” she says.

Jobs come and go, but baby moments are fleeting, she says.

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