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9/14/05



  

When To Talk To A Lawer

Not every woman who gets pregnant needs a lawyer.  In fact, most pregnant woman can and should think about what color to paint the nursery rather than hunting down the right attorney.    But, there are times when a lawyer can make your life easier.  Lawyers don’t just litigate and take cases to court; lawyers can also help you protect your rights before there is a problem.  This can help you feel confident about your financial future and enjoy your pregnancy instead of worrying about work.

This Belly Scoop is going to help you understand how and when you might want to talk to an employment law attorney, and what you can expect if you do.

First, contacting an attorney does not mean you have to file a case in court.  In fact, depending upon when you contact a lawyer and the particular facts of your situation, most employment law attorneys will not start with litigation.

Some common situations where an attorney can help include:

SITUATION 1:

You just found out your pregnant and you haven’t told anyone at work yet.  You’ve done some research on the internet and know you have rights, but you are not sure your employer is going to provide you with all of the benefits you are entitled to. 

How can a lawyer help?  If you want help communicating with your employer, an attorney can help you draft a letter that will protect your rights and help prevent any retaliation from your employer.  Your employer may never need to know you have an attorney because all correspondence can be in your own name.  Your attorney simply helps you draft the correspondence to ensure it is adequate in protecting your rights.

SITUATION 2:

You requested leave from work because your doctor put you on bed rest during your pregnancy.  Your employer has refused to give you leave stating that you haven’t worked enough hours to qualify for Family and Medical Leave. 

How can a lawyer help?  If you want to try to resolve things without your employer knowing that you’ve contacted an attorney, you might start with an attorney helping you draft a letter in your name requesting leave with the applicable law cited.  If this is unsuccessful or you want your employer to know a lawyer is involved, an attorney can contact your employer directly and explain that you are entitled to leave.  You might also choose to have an attorney write a ‘demand’ letter, essentially telling the employer that you will proceed to litigation if they do not resolve the situation immediately.

You can choose the tone you want to express to your employer.  You may choose not to threaten litigation at this point, especially if you hope to keep your job and want a friendly relationship with your supervisor and colleagues.  On the other hand, you may decide that threatening litigation is the only way to get your employer to act lawfully.  The right attorney will counsel you and act according to your wishes. 

SITUATION 3:

You informed your employer of your pregnancy and two months later you were demoted or transferred to a less desirable position.

How can a lawyer help?  Even in this situation, most employment law attorneys will not start by filing a lawsuit.  Rather, they will write a ‘demand letter.’  Essentially, this letter tells your employer that they need to fully correct the situation (this may include paying you money for your lost income, emotional distress, and attorneys’ fees) or you will file a lawsuit.  If your employer fails to respond, it may be time to file a suit in court. 

OTHER SITUATIONS:

Other situations where a lawyer can help include:  your doctor has placed you on light duty and you need to negotiate a reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy; you want to negotiate for an alternate work schedule that your employer is not legally required to give you without jeopardizing your current position at work; or you simply want to educate yourself about your rights so you can plan for your pregnancy and the birth of your child.

In any event, don’t be afraid to contact an attorney and ask questions.  Ask what services an attorney can provide and how much those services will cost.  Make sure you feel comfortable with your attorney and that you feel they understand your situation.

To contact an attorney who focuses primarily on helping pregnant women atwork, visit www.pregnancylawyer.com or call Attorney Sarah B. Schlehr directly at (310) 492-5757.

This Belly Scoop has been sponsored by Ms. Pregnancy Lawyer, Sarah B. Schlehr!

     


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