Congratulations! Pregnancy and the birth or adoption of a child is an exciting time in any parent’s life. Unfortunately, employers don’t always see it this way. Too often employers care more about the bottom-line than respecting the time their employees need to help a child settle into his or her new life. New and expectant mothers have enough to worry about without their employers also giving them problems. If your employer held a job for you but lowered your pay or position upon your return from maternity leave, or terminated you while pregnant or on maternity leave; their actions may be illegal and violate your rights.
Our legislatures have passed extensive laws protecting the rights of new and expectant mothers. One such law, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (G.L. c. 149, § 105D), governs the rights of women to maternity leave. Employers that fail to comply with the Maternity Leave Act face serious consequences. Under Massachusetts law a mother or father must be provided with up to eight weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of child. An employee need not paid while on parental leave, but must restored to a similar position wen she is ready to return from leave. Our employment-law attorneys have extensive experience defending women’s rights under this law and fighting for a mother’s right to provide for her family.
Protecting a Mother’s Ability to Provide
There are many ways in which the Maternity Leave Act requires employers to respect a mother’s birth or adoption of a child. For instance, employers must grant eight weeks of leave to qualifying female employees for them to give birth or adopt a child under age eighteen. A female employee qualifies for this leave if she has completed an initial probationary period for her employment, or if there is no required probationary period, she has been employed by the same employer for at least three consecutive months as a full-time employee. To obtain the leave, a qualifying employee must notify her employer at least two weeks in advance of her anticipated date of departure and her intent to return to work after the leave.
The Maternity Leave Act prohibits employers from the following:
- refusing to grant a qualifying employee eight weeks for maternity leave;
- requiring a qualifying employee to use vacation days to cover her absence during maternity leave;
- refusing to restore a qualifying employee to the same or a similar position with the same status, pay, length of service credit, and seniority that she held before taking maternity leave;
- reducing a qualifying employee’s benefits upon her return from maternity leave; and
- refusing to hire a prospective employee because she is pregnant.
If you or a loved one has faced such discrimination, call our employment-law attorneys. They have experience standing up against unscrupulous employers and getting them to do the right thing.
Respecting the Expecting
Our employment-law attorneys stand up for our clients, be it in negotiations, proceedings at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), in arbitration, or in a civil action filed in state or federal court. We fight for what our clients’ deserve, and we have been successful in winning reinstatement, back pay, and civil penalties against employers.
If you believe your rights under the Maternity Leave Act have been violated, call our employment-law team as soon as possible. They can protect your right to provide for your family.
Don’t Forget the Dads
In 2015 the Maternity Leave Act, Mass. General Laws c. 149, s. 105D, became the Parental Leave Act, giving fathers the right to leave as mothers. Note that other state and federal laws may apply to pregnant employees, including the Family Medical Leave Act. If you are fired when your employer discovers your pregnant or will need parental leave, or attempt to return from Parental Leave and are told be your employer that there’s no job for you to come back to, you should contact an employment attorney.