Pregnancy Leave Layoff

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about maternity discrimination:

My whole department is getting laid off. Most of my colleagues last day is on December and are getting a bonus for staying until then. Two of them are getting laid off in October with no bonus, including myself. I’m going on maternity on July. When I asked why I was getting laid off earlier with the colleagues that are newer to the company (unlike me), my boss told me that since I was going on maternity leave, they will already have a replacement for me. Is this discriminatory, to deny me the opportunity for two months of pay and a bonus I would have had otherwise? Or can they lay me off at will?

Signed, Mom-To-Be

Dear Mom-To-Be:

This is a complex situation, because of the mix of issues (maternity leave, company-wide lay-offs and your seniority status.) Unfortunately, we are workplace communication advisers rather than employment law experts, so we don’t have definitive information for you.The legality of the situation would involve your state and the specific details of your situation. I suggest you contact the department of labor in your state or an attorney who specializes in employment law. Many attorneys will provide a free phone consultation–and a paralegal may be able to give you the correct information.I’m sorry this situation is occurring now. But, I’m happy for your upcoming motherhood and wish you the best.

Tina Lewis Rowe