Anyone who has paid any attention to the press covering the state of the law regarding pregnancy discrimination in Ohio knows that its an area where clarity is greatly needed. Hopefully, by accepting the case of Nursing Care Management of America d/b/a Pataskala Oaks Care Center v. Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Ohio Supreme Court has signaled that it will provide some much needed guidance in the interpretation and application of Ohio's pregnancy discrimination laws.
The case arises from the brief employment of Tiffany McFee as a nurse at Pataskala Oaks Care Center. Ms. McFee was hired by Pataskala Oaks as a Licensed Practice Nurse on June 9, 2003. Approximately eight months later, on January 26, 2004, Ms. McFee presented her employer with a physician's note indicating that she was medically unable to work due to a pregnancy-related medical condition, and that she would be unable to return to work until six weeks after her delivery. Ms. McFee gave birth on February 1, 2004.
Pataskala Oaks had a leave of absence policy based on the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Pursuant to the FMLA, Pataskala Oaks' policy allowed 12 weeks of leave for eligible employees, who must have worked for the company for at least 12 months prior to the commencement of their leave. Because Ms. McFee had not worked for Pataskala Oaks for 12 months, she was ineligible for leave under Pataskala Oaks policy. As a result, her employment with the company was terminated. Employees who are terminated because they are ineligible for leave are told that they can re-apply for employment when they are able to resume work. Pataskala Oaks' Director of Nursing contacted Ms. McFee on February 25, 2004, and left her a voicemail message informing her of a full-time position if Ms. McFee was interested. Ms. McFee never returned the call.
She did, however, file a charge of discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ("OCRC")...
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