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  1. #1
    dlies Guest

    Layoff of pregnant woman

    My wife currently works as a VP for ABN AMRO Bank in Los Angeles, CA, is 35, 4 months pregnant (the Bank is aware of this), had a miscarriage back in July/August 2001 (which she feels was tied to stress at the Bank; the Bank is also aware of this) and will probably be laid off Monday (tomorrow), along with approximately 20-25 of her fellow employees due to a decision to ultimately close the L.A. office.

    What should she expect as far as severance, extension of benefits, etc. Is there anything she should be aware of upfront in order to maximize her leverage in negotiating her severance package? Is there any value in her casually mentioning to the Bank's HR people tomoroow that she will need to have her labor attorney review any package that she is expected to accept to "make sure everything is in order", irrespective of whether or not she actually decides to.

    Sorry for the rambling but any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    DRL
  2. #2
    Beth3 is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    14,991
    Your wife is not entitled to special treatment because she is pregnant. She is entitled to the same treatment and consideration any other employee would receive - no more, no less.

    There is no legal requirement for an employer to offer severance. Anything an employer offers is a matter of company policy, practice, or sometimes just generosity. An employer may offer no severance at all, may offer the same to all employees, or may differentiate the amount of severance offered based upon senority, or position, or any other non-discriminatory factor (i.e. anything but age, race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, pregnancy, etc.)

    I wouldn't suggest she go in playing hardball, if that's what she's thinking. She should wait and see what, if anything, the company is offering by way of severance or any other benefits, such as outplacement assistance. It's very likely the company will ask her to sign a waiver in exchange for severance, in which case it's entirely appropriate for her to tell them she'll get back to them after she's had a chance to review the document. She needn't mention she wants to have an attorney review it (which she's entirely entitled to do) because it just isn't necessary at that point.

    Bringing up the "L word" (lawyer) doesn't scare an employer into putting more on the table and may turn an otherwise reasonably amicable situation into entrenched positions. If she's not pleased with what the company is offering, she might well have more negotiating ability without bringing up the topic of a lawyer. (i.e. you can catch more flies with honey...)

    I'm not saying she shouldn't consult with an attorney, just that it's frequently not a good negotiating ploy (or even necessary) to come out of the gate with both barrels loaded.
  3. #3
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Massachusetts
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    33,929
    Severance is not required by law. Unless she has a contract that guarantees it, any severance whatsoever is essentially a gift from the employer.

    As far as extension of benefits goes, she is entitled to up to 18 months of her health coverage (and possibly her dental as well) at her own cost. They may charge her up to 102% of the actual cost to them. If the office is closed entirely and the policy is terminated, they must offer her the opportunity to change to another policy that covers the LA area; however, if there is no other policy available that covers that region, they are not obligated to create a new one; in which case, that would be the end of the benefits extension. She is not entitled to an extension of any life or disability benefits unless the company so chooses.

    If the idea behind mentioning having her attorney review the package is to scare them into giving her a better package, I wouldn't bother. The majority of companies I've been involved with fully expect, and believe it or not, would prefer, for their employees to have their attorneys' review their packages. Unless you have a very real reason to believe they're trying to get away with something, you can mention it but I don't think they'll be particularly concerned about it.

    BTW, the fact that your wife is pregnant is absolutely immaterial. Her pregnancy does not entitle her to anything different than the other employees who are being laid off. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act verifies that a pregnant employee is entitled to be treated exactly the same as everyone else; not discriminated against, but no special privileges either.
  4. #4
    dlies Guest
    Thanks for your quick response, much appreciated.


    Originally posted by Beth3
    Your wife is not entitled to special treatment because she is pregnant. She is entitled to the same treatment and consideration any other employee would receive - no more, no less.

    There is no legal requirement for an employer to offer severance. Anything an employer offers is a matter of company policy, practice, or sometimes just generosity. An employer may offer no severance at all, may offer the same to all employees, or may differentiate the amount of severance offered based upon senority, or position, or any other non-discriminatory factor (i.e. anything but age, race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, pregnancy, etc.)

    I wouldn't suggest she go in playing hardball, if that's what she's thinking. She should wait and see what, if anything, the company is offering by way of severance or any other benefits, such as outplacement assistance. It's very likely the company will ask her to sign a waiver in exchange for severance, in which case it's entirely appropriate for her to tell them she'll get back to them after she's had a chance to review the document. She needn't mention she wants to have an attorney review it (which she's entirely entitled to do) because it just isn't necessary at that point.

    Bringing up the "L word" (lawyer) doesn't scare an employer into putting more on the table and may turn an otherwise reasonably amicable situation into entrenched positions. If she's not pleased with what the company is offering, she might well have more negotiating ability without bringing up the topic of a lawyer. (i.e. you can catch more flies with honey...)

    I'm not saying she shouldn't consult with an attorney, just that it's frequently not a good negotiating ploy (or even necessary) to come out of the gate with both barrels loaded.
  5. #5
    dlies Guest
    Thank you for your quick response, also much appreciated.

    Originally posted by cbg
    Severance is not required by law. Unless she has a contract that guarantees it, any severance whatsoever is essentially a gift from the employer.

    As far as extension of benefits goes, she is entitled to up to 18 months of her health coverage (and possibly her dental as well) at her own cost. They may charge her up to 102% of the actual cost to them. If the office is closed entirely and the policy is terminated, they must offer her the opportunity to change to another policy that covers the LA area; however, if there is no other policy available that covers that region, they are not obligated to create a new one; in which case, that would be the end of the benefits extension. She is not entitled to an extension of any life or disability benefits unless the company so chooses.

    If the idea behind mentioning having her attorney review the package is to scare them into giving her a better package, I wouldn't bother. The majority of companies I've been involved with fully expect, and believe it or not, would prefer, for their employees to have their attorneys' review their packages. Unless you have a very real reason to believe they're trying to get away with something, you can mention it but I don't think they'll be particularly concerned about it.

    BTW, the fact that your wife is pregnant is absolutely immaterial. Her pregnancy does not entitle her to anything different than the other employees who are being laid off. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act verifies that a pregnant employee is entitled to be treated exactly the same as everyone else; not discriminated against, but no special privileges either.

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