The idea of having a baby is exciting for most couples that want to have children together. Whether its lunch break at work or a friend’s party, you will see expecting couples gathering, giving or seeking information about pregnancy, deliveries, doctors and even the best diapers in the market. What some couples are not fully informed about, however is their rights as expecting parents. It is very common for people to believe that all companies/employers in Texas are supposed to give paid maternity leave to pregnant women and/or to fathers-to-be. This misconception can be misleading in the least and a huge obstacle when it comes to planning, before and when the baby arrives.
Understanding Maternity Leave Rights in Texas
The law in Texas protects pregnant women from being discriminated against under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) 1978; that is, employers cannot fire anyone or treat them differently for being pregnant. However, this act does not allow you to take maternity leave or parental leave. United States is one of the three countries in the world that does not guarantee paid leave for expecting mothers. There is a federal law called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that gives the right to eligible employees to take up to 12 (unpaid) weeks off if your employer is covered by this law. It applies to biological parents and to new parents of foster or adoptive children.
An employer is required to comply with this act if it has at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks of the current calendar year. Moreover, the FMLA will apply to the employee if:
- He/she has worked with the employer for at least 12 months as of the date the leave will start
- He/she works at a worksite with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
If Your Employer is Not Bound by the FMLA
Small companies with less than 50 employees are under no legal obligation to follow the FMLA. But pregnancies can sometimes be complicated and may require a few weeks off for medical reasons. If you are having a difficult pregnancy and think that it might be causing you to have a temporary disability, you might be able to invoke the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA gives eligible employees with disabilities the right to request for medical leave for the disability. You will need medical evidence to support your request for leave and will have to return to take on the same tasks and responsibilities that you were performing before the leave. It is always a good idea to talk to your employer about the best solution to your condition; most employers will try to accommodate your concerns and provide you with some flexible options.
If Your Employer is Discriminating or Preventing you From Taking a Needed Maternity/Parental Leave
It is common for employers to fire pregnant employees. CNN reported that between 2013 and 2014, government agencies received 5370 charges alleging pregnancy discrimination at the workplace. Furthermore, a restaurant in Houston fired eight pregnant employees because the manager believed that the job would harm the “child’s safety” if the women worked there. Such acts of discrimination are illegal and can be dealt with fairly if you hire an experienced employment attorney in Dallas. Pregnancy discrimination can be a common occurrence in small businesses with less than 15 employees as the employer is not covered by employment law and therefore is free to handle situations in any way convenient to it. Rad Law Firm has employment and sex discrimination lawyers who can help you find the best legal solution to any kind of discrimination or disagreement issues with employers regarding parental/maternal leave. We can help you find creative solutions so that you get to spend quality time with your new family member. Call us today for an in-depth review of your case.