Discovering that you are pregnant is typically an exciting and happy occasion. You’re expanding your family and assuming the valuable responsibility of raising the next generation. Unfortunately, not all employers see it that way, which is why it is important to understand your rights regarding maternity leave in Connecticut.
Do You Have a Right to Time Off for Maternity Leave?
In Connecticut, there are no state laws that require you to be paid during maternity leave, although individual employers may have programs that pay your wages. There are two different laws that may entitle you to unpaid job-protected leave, but you must be eligible for either or both of them.
- The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave, with job protection and full insurance benefits in place, after the birth or adoption of a child. You qualify for FMLA leave if your company has more than 50 employees who work within 75 miles of the office or job location. You must also have worked there for a minimum of 12 months and logged at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
- The Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act offers 16 weeks of protected unpaid leave within 24 months after the birth or adoption of a child, but your employer must have at least 75 employees, and you must have worked at least 1,000 hours during the 12-month period preceding the first day of your leave. Unlike the FMLA, local government or state employees are excluded and employers are not required to maintain health benefits during your leave.
- Under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, (“CFEPA”), employers with at least 3 employees are required to give employees who are left disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or conditions related to either one a reasonable leave of absence.
- You can review a side-by-side comparison of the federal and Connecticut FML Acts here.
Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination
CFEPA expressly states that employers may not discriminate against pregnant employees or job applicants. This means that it is illegal to:
- Deny a job because the applicant or employee is visibly pregnant or expressed a desire to become a parent;
- Demote, fire, or otherwise retaliate against an employee who informs management that she’s pregnant;
- Fire or subject an employee to an unreasonable job change during or after maternity leave;
- Fail or refuse to provide an employee with reasonable workplace accommodations during pregnancy;
- Force an employee to come into work before she’s able; and
- Force an employee to take leave before she’s ready.
Despite these laws, pregnancy discrimination is not unusual. Some employers assume that an expectant mother is less capable due to “hormones” or physical challenges, while others do not want to assume the expense of hiring extra staff to cover the duties of the pregnant employee while she is on leave. This attitude is both morally wrong and highly illegal.
If you believe that you are being discriminated against due to your pregnancy and/or intention to take maternity leave, contact Monarch Law immediately. Our team will leave no stone unturned to protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.