Tuesday May 10, 2016

Women fired while on maternity leave want better legal protection

Three months after giving birth, Gilary Massa was informed by her employer that she no longer had a job.  Massa is fighting for her right to return to her old job after her maternity leave is done.

Three months after giving birth, Gilary Massa was informed by her employer that she no longer had a job. Massa is fighting for her right to return to her old job after her maternity leave is done. (Courtesy of Gilary Massa)

Read story transcript

Most people believe the law protects them and their jobs while on maternity leave. But it seems that's not always how things turn out.

In Sept. 2015, Gilary Massa gave birth to her first child. Three months into her maternity leave, her Toronto employer informed her she no longer had a job.

Massa says she was shocked. "It came out of nowhere. It's my lifeline."

The reason given by her employer was the job was eliminated due to restructuring.

Beyond the emotional shock, Massa says it was a big financial hit and adds that their family can not afford to live on a single income. 

Gilary Massa Quoteboard

(Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press)

The controversy over Massa losing her position while on maternity leave coincides with a government review in Ontario looking at how the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act could be updated to better protect workers.

Guests in this segment:

The Current requested an interview with Gilary Massa's employer, the Ryerson Students' Union, but haven't heard back. We also reached out to Ryerson University.

In a statement, it points out that: "It is important to note that the RSU is a separate, independent corporation with its own bylaws and governance; Ryerson University respects their independence." 

Did your pregnancy or maternity leave jeopardize your job? If you're an employer, what kind of challenges have you faced?

Send us an email. Find us on Facebook or on Twitter @TheCurrentCBC. .

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar and Sujata Berry.