In 2000, Sandy Stephens, a housekeeper at Global NAPs, alerted her employer that she would be taking maternity leave. Her employer told her that if she had a cesarean section, she could have longer than the 8 weeks mandated by the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA). Mrs. Stephens ended up taking longer than the 8 weeks, but when she returned to work, she was not welcomed with open arms. Global NAPs claimed she had violated the maternity leave policy and sent her packing. And so begins the lawsuit.
So what did the Court say in this case? An employee does not have protection of the MMLA if she takes longer than 8 weeks. Certainly, an employer may grant longer leave if they wish, but the employee will not have legal protection.
Avoid the headache altogether. Do what the attorneys Ogletree Deakins suggest in their article, “Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Clarifies Leave Rights under the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act” and:
- Review leave policies to ensure they are in compliance with the timing and notice requirements of the MMLA and FMLA.
- Ensure that enforcement of leave policies is uniform.
- Inform employees in writing before and during their leave of their rights under the leave policies.
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