Maternity/Paternity Leave

Are pregnancy related complications keeping you from performing your job? Have you welcomed a newborn child into your family and need time to care for them? If so, you might be eligible to get maternity or paternity leave under the law.

Houston employment lawyers Robert J. Wiley and Kalandra N. Wheeler represent Houston workers who need maternity or paternity leave or have been retaliated against because of their usage of such leave. We understand that more likely than not you are in a time in your life where having to worry about your job may be too much to handle. In such a case you need a team of attorneys that will fight for you.

Under both federal and state law, an employer may be required to give new mothers and fathers leave from work to care for the newest member of their family. For example, under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), if you are a qualified employee that works for a covered employer you may be eligible to receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off in one calendar year.

So what exactly is would make an employee a qualified employee? Well, in order to be consider a qualified employee under the FMLA you must:
  • Worked for the employer for the past years;
  • During that year you must have worked at least 1,250 hours or more; and
  • Be employed by an employer that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of your particular worksite.
Furthermore, the FMLA specifically states that the paternity and maternity leave does not necessarily need to be related to the birth of a child. If you have decided to adopt a child or become a foster parent, you are still protected under the FMLA.
Additionally, FMLA leave does not need to be taken all at once. If your situation allows you to come back to work, but requires you to have periodic absences, you can get intermittent FMLA leave, which in essence allows you to take short intermittent periods of leave to tend to your newest member of your family. It is important to note that you must give your employer reasonable notice of your need to get FMLA leave.

Also, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act an employer is not allowed to discriminate expecting mothers. This means that if other non-pregnant co-workers are allowed to have leave for non-pregnancy related disabilities, you must also be allowed to take leave for your pregnancy related conditions.

These laws were specifically crafted to protect mothers and fathers during a part of their lives when they most need leave. As such, lawmakers have put in provisions in these laws that retaliating against a new mother or new father because of a request for leave or the taking of leave is prohibited. Examples of acts that would be considered illegal are:
  • Denial of a promotion;
  • Demotion;
  • Firing; and
  • Affecting employee benefits.
If any of these acts were directly related or caused because you took leave to care for a new member of your family, this is not only morally wrong but it is also illegal. Do not let your employer interfere with your rights. You have worked hard for your employer. As such, you must make sure that they are not taking advantage of your current situation to break the law.  We are here to help in whatever part of the process you may find yourself. Whether it is you need assistance requesting maternity or paternity leave, your employer is interfering with your leave, or if they have already retaliated against you for taken leave.

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If you are having any difficulty taking leave, returning to work, or experiencing retaliation, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. Generally, you will meet with an attorney to discuss your matter. If we believe a violation of the law has occurred and if you decide to hire us, we will sign a representation agreement and enforce your rights.