The unfortunate headline reads, Court: It's OK to ax mom. And the story behind it is even more unfortunate: A Massachusetts court has ruled that women who take more than eight weeks of maternity leave can be fired.
Massachusett's Supreme Judicial Court ruled that,
"Once a female employee is absent from employment for more than eight weeks, she is no longer within the purview of the [Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act] and, consequently, is not afforded the protections conferred by the statute."
The case was brought by a housekeeper who said she was told she could take 11 weeks leave, only to be fired by her employer. According to the Boston Herald, "Stephens cited a Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination guideline that advises employers to notify employees in writing if they don't plan to guarantee a job beyond eight weeks, [but] the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the guideline is not law."
A jury awarded the housekeeper $1 million, which will not be affected by the more recent ruling, which the defendants' lawyer The Boston Globe called "a victory for business interests."
Because the woman did not work for a company with 50 or more employees, she was ineligible for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which would have provided 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Massachusetts ranks somewhere in the middle in its guarantees to parental leave; a detailed list of state-by-state parental leave policies can be found at Womb To Bloom's Maternity Leave Insider. Also, check out this chart on how the U.S. compares to other countries on this front.
Related: Paid Parental Leave [Think Progress]
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