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Question Corner: Can an employer force maternity leave?
March 22, 2019
Parsons Behle & Latimer Legal Briefings

 One of our employees is pregnant. Her doctor has cleared her for work, but we want her to stop working two weeks before her due date. Can we make her go on maternity leave early?

A. No. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits an employer from forcing a pregnant woman who is able to do her job into taking early maternity leave. 

Q. During a recent job interview, the candidate told us he is on probation. Are we allowed to ask why he is on probation since he voluntarily disclosed that status?

A. Neither Idaho nor federal law prohibits further inquiry, provided the information does not lead to the disparate treatment of a protected class like race or national origin. If grounded in business necessity, an employer may justify an employment decision based solely on a conviction record if it reviews, on a case-by-case basis, the nature of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction, the nature of the job sought and concludes that the conviction or arrest record indicates the candidate cannot be trusted to perform the perform the duties of a position.

Q. One of our employees recently moved, and he refuses to share his new address. I told him that, for W-2 purposes, we need his address. He said we can still use his old one. Is there any reason for us to require him to provide his actual physical/residential address?

A. Provided you are unable to hand deliver the statement to him personally, the IRC only requires you to mail the W-2 to his current or last known address. You are under no obligation to obtain his actual address; the taxpayer is the one required to provide that information if he wishes to receive his statements directly.

Q. We have received several complaints from employees about two coworkers who are having a hard time keeping their personal lives out of the workplace. The employees claim it is affecting their ability to concentrate and feel comfortable at work. One is going through a divorce and supposedly cries to his coworkers. The other is a recovering alcoholic who has frequent angry outbursts. How can we help the team but also help the two offenders?

A. These life events can certainly be very traumatic and their effects, when inflicted on other employees, are not conducive to a functional workplace. If not dealt with properly, you run the risk of allowing a hostile work environment to develop. If you truly seek a solution for both sides, begin by adopting a workplace conduct policy that clarifies professional conduct expected during work hours for all employees. For employees experiencing personal difficulties, provide professional counseling resources and ensure all employees are aware of resource availability.

Jason R. Mau is an attorney in the Boise office of Parsons Behle & Latimer.  He can be reached at 208-562-4898 or


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