Maternity Leave Laws

Need a sample maternity leave policy? Information on pregnancy disability leave? We can help with the latest on topics like disability maternity leave.

Creating a legally compliant maternity leave policy is harder than ever. When you need assistance, trust Business Management Daily to help you deliver.

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Federal courts don’t have much patience for faulty logic. A U.S. District Court in New York recently issued a particularly stinging rebuke to a nurse whose pregnancy discrimination case hinged on the “fallacious syllogism” that “I was fired; I was pregnant when I was fired; therefore, I was fired because I was pregnant.”

Goldman Sachs is getting sued a lot these days … and not just by the SEC. Charlotte Hanna claims the embattled investment bank marginalized her after she had two children, effectively barring her from returning to full-time work as a vice president. In a lawsuit charging violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the FMLA, Hanna says taking the bank’s offer of an “off ramp” for executives who wanted to have children derailed her career.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn’t guarantee pregnant employees any special treatment in the workplace. It simply says you must treat them “the same as any other temporarily disabled employee.” If your organization doesn’t allow other employees to take leave or be placed in light-duty positions, then pregnant employees aren’t entitled to such privileges either.
If you terminate employees who have used up all their FMLA leave and still can’t come back to work, watch out! Make sure you don’t single out any particular class of employees for firing.

St. Paul-based White Way Dry Cleaners has paid $42,250 to a former employee who filed an EEOC pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The case arose when Michelle Johnson was transferred from her job pressing clothes to a counter position after telling her bosses she was pregnant. White Way had a longstanding policy of transferring pregnant employees to protect them from chemicals used in the dry cleaning process.

Q. Our maternity leave policy offers paid leave for female employees who plan to return to work after the birth of the child. If the employee quits before returning to work, she’s required to reimburse the company for the paid leave. Is this lawful?

Employers are often confused about how much absenteeism they must allow for employees who haven’t worked long enough to be covered by the FMLA, and who aren’t otherwise entitled to miss work as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The bottom line is that if you treat everyone equally, you can set high attendance expectations—and fire those who don’t meet them.

As you may have heard by now, the new health reform law includes a provision to protect nursing mothers who choose to pump breast milk at work. But it’s important to realize that 24 states still have their own laws on this topic. And you must follow whichever law—fed or state—gives the greatest protection to the employee.
Frequently, absenteeism problems arise because a company has no clear policy on the issue. A company policy statement should be distributed to all employees, indicating when and under what conditions an employee will be paid (or not paid) for absences.
Awe c’mon. An employee is obviously pregnant but you can’t even say the “p” word? Does the mere use of the adjective translate into legal liability? One court recently said “relax;” it’s okay to say a woman is pregnant. Just don’t make any employment decisions based on it or comment negatively. Still, it’s a bit tricky, as this case shows …
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