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Maternity Leave in Texas

Posted by Tamara

Under FMLA or the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical and health situations. Included in these situations are serious illness of the employer, (cancer, heart attack, etc.), caring for a seriously ill parent, spouse or child, and bond with a newborn, a newly adopted child or a recently fostered child.  

Normally an employee cannot be terminated solely because she takes time off under FMLA, whether that time is maternity leave or for another reason.  

FMLA guarantees the Texas employee’s job while out on leave. When the worker returns to the job, the employer is legally required to provide that worker the same position, or a position with comparable salary, benefits and working conditions. 

In most cases, therefore, a Texas employee on FMLA leave can not be fired or laid off. For example, Mary is an administrative assistant currently on maternity leave. During her absence, her supervisor, John, fills Mary’s position with another worker named Jill.  

Jill is a good worker and John prefers her work over Mary’s, so he decides to lay Mary off and keep Jill. In this scenario, laying off Mary is probably illegal. If John wants to keep Jill, he must either find another job for her, or find a comparable position for Mary.  

Another federal law applies to pregnancy and maternity leave. The PDA (Pregnancy Discrimination Act) prohibits employers from terminating employees specifically due to being pregnant or on maternity leave. 

There are exceptions. For example, while Mary is on maternity leave, her employer suffers a significant reduction in force. Fifty percent of the employees are laid off, including 10 administrative assistants. Despite being on maternity leave, Mary could legally be laid off, too. 

Another exception is the employee’s state of residence. California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon and seven other states have enacted their own family leave laws. The laws in these states differ from FMLA and vary from each other. If Mary was an administrative assistant in one of these states, her options could be quite different.  

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