If you lose your job in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if your job loss was not your fault. Unemployment benefits can provide a financial safety net when you are not terminated for cause and are looking for a new job. For example, if you lose your job because of downsizing, you will likely qualify for unemployment benefits. The benefits amount that you might receive will depend on how much you earned at your former job. Unemployment benefits will not replace your former paycheck but will provide you with a percentage of what you used to earn. The benefits payments can still be important to help you through when you are looking for a new job, however. While some people are ineligible for unemployment based on the reasons why they lost their jobs or because of not having worked for an employer for a long enough time, you cannot be turned down for benefits simply because of your pregnancy status. If you lost your job while you were pregnant, you might wonder what your options are and whether you can file for benefits now or have to wait until your child is born to file a claim. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand the unemployment compensation system and your options when you lose your job during pregnancy.
Unemployment and pregnancy
You are required to meet specific eligibility criteria to receive unemployment benefits. You will need to have worked for an employer that paid unemployment taxes and cannot have been terminated for cause. You must also be available to start working at another job if you find a new position. If your pregnancy does not prevent you from working at a new job, you should not worry about waiting to file your claim.
When you file your claim for benefits, you do not have to disclose your pregnancy status if it does not prevent you from working. For example, if you are a secretary who works at a desk and has no pregnancy-related complications, there isn’t a reason that you should be prevented from working until you give birth to your child. In other words, you should go ahead and submit your claim for unemployment benefits.
If you are eligible to receive benefits past your delivery date, you should suspend them during any time that you cannot perform work. After you submit your initial claim, you will have to submit weekly claims in which you certify that you were available and able to work. If you give birth to your child and spend the rest of the week in the hospital, you will need to state that you were not able to work for that week. While you won’t receive benefits for that week, you can file a claim for benefits during a week when you are again able to work and are available.
Missing a week or two because of not being able to work doesn’t mean that you will lose your future benefits. Instead, the week or weeks during which you were unable to work will simply be pushed to the end of the total benefits eligibility period. You can put your benefits on hold during your maternity leave and collect the missed weeks of benefits afterward if you are still unemployed.
Employers contesting unemployment claims from pregnant workers
While pregnancy discrimination is illegal, it unfortunately still occurs. If your employer fired you from your job because of your pregnancy and refused to provide reasonable accommodations for you to perform your job, you can file a claim for unemployment benefits and a discrimination charge against your former employer. Some employers concoct reasons to fire pregnant workers and might contest their unemployment compensation claims by alleging that they engaged in misconduct. Keep thorough records and documentation, including emails, texts, requests for accommodations, the contents of your personnel file, and witnesses who could testify on your behalf. An attorney at Swartz Swidler can help you with your claim for unemployment compensation and your claim for wrongful termination based on your pregnancy status.
Losing your job while you are pregnant can be problematic. If you are fired during pregnancy, your condition will not prevent you from getting unemployment compensation. If you believe that your employer fired you for a pretextual reason simply because of your pregnancy, contact the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler for advice. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping to protect the rights of our clients and can explain the legal remedies that might be available. Schedule a consultation by calling us at 856.685.7420.