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Category: Pregnancy Discrimination

Must Employer Accommodate Disability By Extending Medical Leave?

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Under the ADA and the Florida Civil Rights Act, employers must accommodate disabilities that do not force undue hardship on the business.

Plaintiff bears the burden of suggesting an accommodation to the employer.  Plaintiff must also show that the accommodation allows her to perform the main functions of the job.  An employee is not entitled to the accommodation of her choice, but only to a reasonable accommodation.

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Extended Medical Leave – Beyond FMLA

An accommodation is not reasonable if it does not allow the employee to perform the job duties in the present or in the near future.  An employer is not required to provide an indefinite leave of absence.

An employer is not required to provide more than 12 weeks unpaid leave under FMLA.  If an employer does allow extended medical leave, it is not protected. It becomes gray when an employee receives a termination notice while on extended leave days before they become eligible for additional FMLA leave. Here, the issue is whether the employee can perform the main job duties in the present or near future. In most cases an employer does not have to accommodate a disability by extending medical leave beyond what is required under the FMLA.

ADA Retaliation

Employers cannot retaliate against an employee for opposing an unlawful employment practice.  To establish a case of ADA retaliation, an employee must show:

  1. engaged in protected activity;
  2. suffered adverse employment action;
  3. causal connection between protected activity and adverse employment action.

Examples of engaging in protected activity include filing a charge of disability discrimination. An employee can also meet this first element by complaining to a supervisor or HR about discrimination.

The most difficult part is proving causation.  Retaliation claims require proof that the employer’s desire to retaliate was the “but-for” cause of the employment action.  This is a much higher standard than mixed-motive.  A plaintiff may satisfy her burden of proving causation by demonstrating a “close temporal proximity between the statutorily protected activity and the adverse employment action. But mere temporal proximity, without more, must be very close in time.

For example, if you filed a charge of discrimination and the next day you’re fired, you have very close temporal proximity and will likely satisfy the element of causation.  However, if you file a charge of discrimination and you’re fire six (6) months later, you’ll need to come forth with additional evidence proving that the motivation for your termination was the filing of a charge of discrimination.

For More Information

For more information about ADA disability law, reasonable accommodations, extending medical leave, and all other issue relating to employment law in Florida please visit The Longo Firm website and view our YouTube videos.

Micah J. Longo
The Longo Firm, P.A.
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
mlongo@longofirm.com

Can I Be Fired For Being Pregnant In Florida?

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Davie Pregnancy Discrimination LawyerIn Florida, employers are prohibited under Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act from discriminating against female workers in the terms and conditions of employment on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. To be protected from pregnancy discrimination you must work for company that has at least 15 workers.

How Do You Prove Pregnancy Discrimination?

By showing that the pregnancy was a “motivating factor” that prompted the employer’s decision to fire, demote, or deny promotion. You don’t have to prove that the pregnancy was the ONLY reasons for your employer’s decision, just that the pregnancy influenced the decision. So, if a pregnancy made a difference in the employer’s decision, it’s likely to be considered a motivating factor under the law.

To establish a pregnancy discrimination case under Title VII or the Florida Civil Rights Act, a plaintiff must prove the following facts:

  1. Plaintiff suffered an “adverse employment action” such as being fired or being denied a promotion.
  2. Plaintiff’s pregnancy was a “motivating factor” that prompted the adverse employment action.

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Once a plaintiff establishes that an adverse employment action was motivated by a pregnancy, the burden shifts to the employer to produce a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for their taking an adverse employment action. This is a very light burden and the courts will not second-guess the business decision of the employer.

Pre-Text

Then, the plaintiff must prove that the employer’s proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons is pretext (or not worthy of belief) for unlawful pregnancy discrimination.  In other words, to prove “pretext” a plaintiff must show the employer’s reason for termination is false, and the pregnancy was the reason for the action. A plaintiff must meet this burden “head-on” and cannot win a pregnancy discrimination case by simply disagreeing with the employer’s reasoning or second guessing the business decision of the boss. Pregnancy discrimination plaintiffs have the ultimate burden of proving discriminatory treatment because of the pregnancy, by the greater weight of the evidence.

Typically, you see a pregnancy discrimination case where a women is hired and then after a few months she announces she’s pregnant. The employer, then fires the pregnant woman citing performance issues or other non-discriminatory reasons. The only problem is the plaintiff has always had excellent performance reviews, and she was fired only a few days after announcing her pregnancy. Here, the pregnant plaintiff would have a strong case because she has shown “pretext” or that performance was not the real reason for her termination.

How To Deal With Pregnancy Discrimination?

If you are still employed, the first thing you should do is make a written complaint to your employer. You want to make the employer aware that you feel you’re being treated differently because you’re pregnant.  The easiest way to do this is call a pregnancy discrimination lawyer and explain the situation. Most pregnancy discrimination lawyers in Florida will guide you through the process of exercising your statutorily protected right to complain about unlawful discrimination in the workplace.

When making a discrimination complaint be sure to follow the rules outlines in your handbook about making such complaints.  Usually, you can make the complaint directly to the human resources department. This is especially true when the persons doing the unlawful discrimination is a direct supervisor. When making your written complaint be sure to send it certified mail-return receipt or some other method where you can confirm receipt (i.e. email, FedEx, etc.).  You can also make a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) called a charge of discrimination. In Florida, a charge of pregnancy discrimination must be filed within 300 days of when the unlawful discrimination took place.

Also, when making your complaint be sure not to sugar-coat the facts. You want to make it very clear that you are complaining about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say you feel you’re being treated differently, make it clear that you’re being treated differently because you are pregnant.  Again, a qualified Florida pregnancy discrimination lawyer will be able to walk you through this process.

Charge of Discrimination

If you’ve already been fired because of you’re pregnant, you must  file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and the Florida Commission on Human Relations BEFORE you can file a lawsuit in court. The Florida Commission on Human Relations is the administrative authority that investigates discrimination claims under the Florida Civil Right Act.  As a practical matter, pregnancy discrimination claims under the Florida Civil Rights Act (state claim) is the law you want to sue under because it provides for punitive damages and suing in state court is a much friendly venue for plaintiffs then federal court under Title VII.  As a side note, Title VII (federal law) is virtually the same substantive law as the Florida Civil Rights Act (state law).

Pregnancy Discrimination Settlements

If you win a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in Florida you may receive compensatory damages as full, just, and reasonable compensation for all of your damages as a result of your employer’s unlawful pregnancy discrimination. It’s important to remember that compensatory damages are not imposed to penalize the employer and cannot be based on speculation or guess-work.

Under, Title VII a pregnancy discrimination plaintiff is entitled to net lost wages (and benefits) from the date of the adverse employment action and the date of the jury verdict and, emotional pain and mental anguish.  Under the Florida Civil Rights Act, a pregnancy discrimination plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages for intentional acts of discrimination in the amount of $100,000.00.

For More Information

Visit The Longo Firm Website for more information about pregnancy discrimination in Florida under Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act.  Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel!

The Longo Firm
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel:  (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916

Micah Longo
mlongo@longofirm.com
Fla. Bar No. 97333

 

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