Is Postpartum Depression a Firing Offense?

A power grid operator in the Midwest recently learned that it isn’t. An employee had made it known to her employer, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), that she was suffering from postpartum depression and requireds time off for her condition. The company refused, then fired her for poor attendance. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first tried to reach a settlement with MISO, but when that failed, the EEOC filed a discrimination lawsuit against MICO claiming violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court ordered MISO to:

  • Pay the former employee $90,500
  • Provide training to its employees about ADA requirements
  • Post notices to inform employees of MISO’s duty not to unlawfully discriminate
  • Provide details to the EEOC of how all other accommodation requests are handled
  • Desist from unlawful disability discrimination and retaliation

The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for the benefit of disabled workers. Although postpartum depression isn’t the type of permanent disability usually covered by the ADA, in this case the employee’s impairment was found to be substantially limiting and thus covered by the ADA.

In addition, New York City workers have a new law, the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers with more than three workers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with postpartum depression and other childbirth medical conditions as well as for pregnant workers.

If you are suffering with postpartum depression and your employer refuses your request for leave, learn your legal rights by speaking with an experienced NYC employment discrimination attorney

 

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