Employees, who are pregnant, take a leave of absence from work and then attempt to return to the same job frequently run into problems with their employers. These situations frequently present pregnancy discrimination claims and in some instances also create issues with unemployment benefits. If an employer demotes the employee upon return from leave, the employee may have a necessitous and compelling cause for leaving work and be entitled to unemployment benefits.
In a recent case, Clover Hill Enterprises v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 2013 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 147 (February 20, 2013), the employee worked for the employer as a full-time office manager, went on an employer-approved maternity leave and before beginning maternity leave told the employer that she intended to return to her job 6-8 weeks after the birth of her baby. At the time the employer requested assurances the employee would return to her job duties and perform them as she did previously. To be entitled to unemployment benefits, an employee who voluntarily terminates her employment bears the burden of proving that she had a necessitous and compelling cause, which in the case of a voluntary termination after a demotion focuses solely on the justification for the demotion. In Clover Hill, after the birth of her child the employee reiterated her desire to return to the same job she had before her maternity leave but the employer only offered probationary part-time employment. The court found that the employee had a necessitous and compelling cause to leave her employment due to the unreasonableness of the employer’s substantial unilateral changes to her job duties following the birth of her child.
An employee who takes a leave for the birth of a child and runs into any issues in returning to employment should consult with an experienced employment law attorney. For more information on pregnancy discrimination, Pennsylvania unemployment compensation and Abramson Employment Law see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126517.html, http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1491925.html