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Thread: Termination of Pregnant Employee

  1. #1
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    Question Termination of Pregnant Employee

    My husband and I own a small company with 15 employees. Approximately 5 months ago we hired someone for an administrative position. Unfortunately, we are having a lot of trouble with her. After about 2-3 months, we realized that she does not produce quality work product, does not complete her assignments, is not pleasant on the phone (she answers phones for our company), she comes in late and wears improper attire. We have had discussions with her about the above and recently started documenting our discussions in memos to her. In her 3rd month of employment, she advised us she was pregnant. Of course, we congratulated her. Unfortunately, even after several warnings, she has not gotten any better. Recently, she was schedule to work, but did not arrive for work for two days out of the week. She returned the next week and had the excuse that she was unable to unlock the door, and thought we had changed her key and fired her, so she left. We told her that it was unacceptable that she did not show up for work for 2 days, without calling and gave her a written, final warning that if any other negatitve issue arose with her (i.e., late, not showing up, not completing her work) that she would be terminated, and asked her to sign it. She signed it then said said "You can do whatever you want. I will sign whatever you want. My attorney said that you cannot fire me because I am pregnant". She now has the attitude that she can do what she wants and will not be fired. We have never had to deal with an issue as this and I am uncertain if we can fire her now, because we certainly don't want to be sued for discrimination due to pregnancy. Can we fire her or not?
    Last edited by companywife; 05-24-2006 at 08:49 PM. Reason: wrong number of employees

  2. #2
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    Of course you can fire her. You can't fire her because she is pregnant but being pregnant is not license to behave as she pleases. Make sure it is well documented that you were having problems and what they are. It is good that you have in writing the final warning. That way she can't say she didn't know her job was in jeopardy.

    You can't prevent her from filing a suit, but someone with this attitude would just file it for another reason just as irrelevant if she weren't pregnant. It would then just be because she is female or some other inapplicable reason. My best guess is that she doesn't even have an attorney. Even if she does, no attorney is going to waste his time on such a meritless case. It just won't get very far.

    Bottom line is that you have no guarantee she won't file a meritless case on some other grounds no matter what you do. Your best bet is to document the problems well, get witnesses to her behavior to write statements if you can. Then treat her just as you would anyone else.

    You cna find more on pregnancy discrimination and what it is and is not at www.eeoc.gov/types/pregnancy.html

  3. #3
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    Thank you so much for your response. We had actually extended her probationary period, and now, I am glad that we did. I believe we should let her go before that time ends.

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