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Georgia Employment: Did Pregnancy Cause Cop's Termination?

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Thomson, GAThere are many valid reasons for terminating an employee, but whether or not pregnancy is one remains to be determined, likely in a Georgia employment lawsuit. Although legally a woman cannot be fired for being pregnant, the cop was fired and may now file a Georgia employment lawsuit alleging her employers violated her rights. When employee rights are violated, lawsuits alleging violations of federal and Georgia labor laws can be filed, to either compensate the victim financially or to help her regain her job.

According to an article at WAGT-TV (03/25/11), the police officer in question, Ruth Hernandez, informed her employer that she could no longer perform her job as a police officer because she was pregnant. As such, she was unable to fulfill her duties until November 2011. The city of Thomson determined that it was unable to hold her position for her and said that because she was only employed by the city for approximately 10 months prior to her separation, the city could not offer her further leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.

An e-mail from the city attorney to WAGT-TV further stated, "The City also explored alternative duty and none was available. The City of Thomson did not take this action lightly and consulted with legal counsel throughout this process before making its decision, ensuring that the organization was in compliance with its policies and all applicable law."

But WAGT-TV states that there was a posted secretary position with the fire department that Hernandez could have taken but was not offered to her. Under federal law, an employer must offer an employee any available position that the employee can perform.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees are entitled to unpaid job-protected leave for family and medical reasons. This includes up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth. Covered employees include those who work for public agencies, regardless of the number of employees.

It is not yet known if Hernandez plans to file a lawsuit to appeal her termination by the city.

Sources:

"Family and Medical Leave Act." online: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/
"New Statement Clarifies City Position On Firing of Pregnant Police Officer." (March 25, 2011). Online: WAGT. http://www2.wagt.com/news/2011/mar/24/7/mayor-employment-attorney-weigh-pregnant-thomson-p-ar-1624442/

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