Employers might not be clear on what happens after a female employee returns from her pregnancy/maternity leave of absence. Does the employee have to be reinstated to the exact position once she returns to work? Is it acceptable to place the employee in a different yet similar position? What if that position does not exist any longer? What if the employee must be terminated for other reasons not having to do with the pregnancy?
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently awarded a woman $35,000 after her employer fired her when she revealed on her first day of work that she was four months pregnant. (The award covered $20,000 in lost wages and benefits, and $15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.) In addition to the damage award, given the overwhelming number of women working for the employer, the tribunal ordered the company to implement and distribute a written policy on the accommodation of pregnancy to ensure future compliance.