Author Topic: You Can Get Fired After Taking Maternity Leave  (Read 1632 times)

Offline Vic Vega

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You Can Get Fired After Taking Maternity Leave
« on: August 18, 2010, 12:47:54 pm »
Sandy Stephens got pregnant when she was working in housekeeping for a company known as Global NAPs Inc. in Massachusetts. Her supervisor at the small telecommunications firm had told her that she could take unpaid maternity leave longer than eight weeks if she gave birth by cesarean section. Stephens did wind up having a C-section, and so she stayed home for 11 weeks. Yet, when she returned to her job, she found she had been fired.

It's the kind of "misunderstanding" that takes place all the time. The postpartum deal is struck, the baby comes, and then—whoops!—human resources has no record of the agreement. The story often ends up with a confused, angry, and suddenly unemployed new mother quietly accepting her fate. In this case, though, Stephens decided to sue; and last week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed her a decision that is a depressing, if not surprising, reminder of the sorry state of parental-leave policy in this country.

According to the decision written by Judge Francis X. Spina, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Law does not protect a worker's right to a leave of more than eight weeks. The state law, which has been on the books since 1972, requires private-sector companies with at least six employees to grant eight weeks of job protection to women who give birth to or adopt a child. But if an employee takes more than eight weeks—even if the employer verbally approved the leave—the maternity leave law no longer applies, according to the decision. Her only legal hope would be if she had gotten the promise in writing, in which case she could sue for breach of contract.

http://www.slate.com/id/2263065/pagenum/all/