When do you have a case for wrongful termination?
Question Details: My wife recently took leave from her position at a physician's office in order to give birth and subsequently properly recover. In order to assist with this, the company she worked for offered short-term disability coverage but not FMLA. She recently reached out to her employer to discuss her return to work which her employer had already stated she would be reducing her from a 40-hour/week full-time position to a part-time, 40-hours every 2 weeks and her employer responded by telling her that they could no longer afford her position.
Short-term disability does not protect your job or guaranty a return. If she missed work without it being approved in advance (before she took the time) or using PTO to cover the absence or using FMLA (and you write that she did not), she could be terminated for absenteeism.
Even if she is not being, or could not be (e.g. the leave was approved in advance) terminated for absenteeism, IF the fact that they "could no longer afford her position" is true--e.g. the employer can show they don't have enough work for her, or don't need the position, or that their revenue is down or costs up, etc.--they could still terminate her. Employers may make legitimate business decisions even when an employee's absence was approved or legitimate.
IF, on the other hand, her absence was approved, covered by PTO, etc. and it is untrue that they no longer need or can no longer afford her position (e.g. they hired someone else to do the same job she did), then this may be illegal discrimintion based on her having been pregnant and giving birth, and in that case, she may have a wrongful termination claim.