Fired for Taking Maternity Leave – Pt. I – Baby Bonding Leave

Image of a mother Bonding With Baby on Leave

You may be entitled to twelve weeks leave to bond with your baby.

Bonding with your newborn baby is essential to your baby’s long term health.  Medical research shows that babies who are given time to properly bond with their mothers form a trusting relationship that prepares the child for healthy relationships with other people throughout the child’s life.  But new mothers are often pressured to return to work as soon as possible.  Even worse, some employers will retaliate against an employee by passing them over for promotion or firing them.

The California Family Rights Act Gives You Time to Bond with Your Baby

Lawmakers in California have recognized the importance of bonding with your newborn and have created laws that allow you to do so without having to worry about being fired.  The California Family Rights Act is California’s version of the Family and Medical Leave Act.  It allows employees to take up to twelve weeks (three months) to bond with your baby.  Your employer CANNOT legally fire you for taking this time to bond with your baby.  If you have been fired for taking time to bond with your baby, you may have a claim for wrongful termination and should contact an experienced employment attorney immediately.

There are few important items to note:

  • The California Family Rights Act only applies to employers with more than 50 employees.  If you work for a small business, you may not be protected.
  • You must request leave from your employer.
  • If you have already taken leave to care for your family member or new born, you may have already used some of your leave time.

Will My Employer Pay Me While I am on Baby Bond Leave?

California law does not require your employer to pay you while you are on leave.  However, many employers voluntarily pay their employees while they are on leave.  This is often referred to as Maternity or Paternity Leave.  Even if your employer won’t pay you while you are on leave, you may be entitled to be paid by the government.

Paid Family Leave

If you are taking leave to bond with your baby, you should probably apply for California’s Paid Family Leave Program.  The program gives employees 55% of their paycheck for up to six weeks while they bond with their newborn or adopted baby.  You may not be eligible if you do not pay into social security.

Fired or Threatened for Taking Leave?

Your employer cannot legally fire you or threaten you for taking leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Furthermore, your employer can’t threaten you or interfere with you if you want to take leave.  Some employers will tell their employees that they shouldn’t take the entire twelve weeks available to them or that they won’t get promoted if they take leave.  This is illegal.  To learn more about wrongful termination, click here.

Your employer may also try to hide the fact that they are firing you because you took leave.  They may fire you before you have your baby to avoid dealing with finding a replacement for you while you are on leave.  Or they may wait to fire you until a few months or a year after you have come back from leave.  These are all unlawful employment practices and if this has happened to you, you may have a case.  Our attorneys offer free consultations and are standing by to help you determine whether your rights were violated and whether you have a case. To speak with one of our employment lawyers today, call (760)-239-0230, or leave us a message and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Pregnancy Disability Leave

In addition to the twelve weeks you are entitled to bond with your baby after child birth, you may be able to take leave before and immediately after having your baby.  See this article on Pregnancy Disability Leave to understand whether you are eligible.


David Peer

About the author

David focuses his practice on civil litigation for small businesses and individuals. Prior to founding Peer & Hart, PC, David worked in WilmerHale's Los Angeles office litigating complex matters for multi-national corporations. David was a member of WilmerHale's patent litigation group and was on the trial team for large-scale patent cases in Federal Court. In 2015, David helped try a multi-week, billion dollar patent case. David also took part in government investigations and major discovery projects, giving him a deep understanding of efficiency and cost-reduction strategies in pre-trial litigation.

Since forming Peer | Hart, David has defended his clients from employment suits and actions in front of administrative agencies. David has negotiated favorable settlements and counseled his clients on cost effective litigation strategy and litigation prevention. David has an engineering degree and is registered to prosecute patents in front of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

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