As an employer, you’re well aware that pregnant employees have some protections. You can’t fire someone when you find out that they’re pregnant, or it’s a violation of their rights. They have a right to consider the type of family life they want to have without worrying that it will cost them their career.
But what if you really do need to fire them for a reason that’s wholly unrelated to their pregnancy? Maybe they’re not good at their job. Maybe they’re always late for work and often they just don’t show up. Maybe they’re so incompetent that they’re costing the company money.
If this was any other employee, you’d send them home and never think about it again. But are you unable to do that if your employee is pregnant?
You can legally fire pregnant employees
You may need to tread a bit carefully, but remember that you can fire pregnant employees. This is not illegal.
What you cannot do is fire someone because they have gotten pregnant. If that’s the reason for their termination, that violates their rights. If you’re firing them for another reason and they just so happen to be pregnant at the time, that’s not an issue.
The key to protecting yourself often lies in documentation. You have to be aware that the employee may claim you violated their rights and fired them because of the pregnancy. You may then need to show that you actually had other valid reasons and the pregnancy had nothing to do with the decision. Disciplinary records, attendance sheets, performance reviews and performance improvement plans can all help back up your assertions.
This can be a very complex case, but don’t assume you’re stuck with the employee when you want to let them go. Just know where you stand, legally speaking, and what steps to take to best protect your company and your reputation.