Can a pregnant sales rep be terminated for not meeting quota?

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Q:  I joined a new company in late 2017 as an account representative for the Northeast region.  It has been chaotic because I have had 3 different managers since I started working here.  In June, our company hired a new Sales Manager.  I announced in late June that I would be having a baby in the early winter.  Our new Sales Manager seems like a good person but he has said repeatedly that meeting our quota is the most important part of our job.  The account reps are a mix of men and women so I don’t see a big deal there.  However, can the Sales Manager terminate me before my due date because I am not meeting my quota?  My company has not terminated a lot of employees but I am feeling like this new Sales Manager is hyper-focused on our results.  

A:  I can understand your concern! In Massachusetts, there are both state and federal laws (depending upon the size of the company) which might protect employees from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, however, these laws do not excuse pregnant employees from meeting the performance requirements of their positions or insulate them from termination. Thus, a failure to meet your quota could be grounds for termination even prior to your giving birth, but whether termination is lawful or not depends on a number of factors.

The law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy means that your employer cannot treat you differently than non-pregnant employees with respect to job requirements, pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. The law also prohibits your employer from disciplining, terminating or taking other adverse employment action against you because of your status as a pregnant woman. However, being pregnant does not excuse you from meeting the performance requirements of your position or insulate you from termination provided that the employer is not terminating you because of your pregnancy. In other words, if you fail to meet your sales quota and are terminated because of it, and the employer holds non-pregnant employees to the same standard, there is no violation of the law.

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