For years, the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (“MMLA”), M.G.L. c. 149, §105D, only applied to female employees by its literal terms. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”), the agency tasked with enforcing the MMLA, has taken the position that if the MMLA was applied literally, it would be unconstitutional, as it would give female employees greater employment rights than men. Although initially intended to protect women who were giving birth to children, since the MMLA also protects women who adopt children, it is not about the physical “disability” associated with giving birth to a child. Thus, the argument goes, men should also be covered by its protections. The conflict between the literal terms of the MMLA and the MCAD’s guidelines for interpreting the MMLA created difficulty for employers who were not subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (which entitles eligible employees, regardless of gender, to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child).
On his last day in office, Governor Deval Patrick settled the matter once and for all, by signing into law a bill that expressly expands the protections of the MMLA to all employees, regardless of gender.… Keep reading
Many companies try not only to be profitable, but also to be good employers. Some employers still fear, however, that praising employees too much for good work may create some workplace liability. Fortunately, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts clarified just before the Thanksgiving holiday in Cagnina v. Philadelphia Insurance Companies, that it is, in fact, okay for employers to give thanks (and even unabashed praise) to their employees.… Keep reading
Although there are many occasions when an employer may lawfully terminate a non-performing or absent employee, if the reason for the non-performance or absence is based on a physical or mental condition – or a perceived physical or mental condition – employers are well-served to carefully scrutinize the facts before deciding to terminate an employee. Here are a few examples of where further scrutiny is well worth the effort:
1. Where the basis for termination comes only from a single source.
Assume, for example, that a line manager recommends the termination of an employee because she is “unreliable.” In reality, and unbeknownst to the employer, the line manager actually wants the employee fired because he feels inconvenienced by having to cover her authorized, intermittent leave hours. If the employer takes the line manager’s word that the employee is simply “unreliable” and terminates the employee taking intermittent leave, the employer will potentially be liable for disability discrimination or a violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Thus, when the basis for making an employment termination decision comes only from one person, in-house counsel should advise the company to do whatever it can to verify the facts through one … Keep reading
Yahoo!, Twitter, Facebook and every possible media outlet have been aflutter with praise and criticism since newly appointed Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer announced to Fortune magazine that she is pregnant and taking a “few weeks” of maternity leave and will be “working throughout it”. Though this may be heartening for Yahoo! investors, the typical employer is reminded that its employees are not Mayer and are not likely to follow in her footsteps. Rather, employers must remember that there are federal and state laws that require employers to provide protected leave for many of their employees. Here are five important reminders:
Reminder #1: “Leaves” require a return to work.
The term “leave” is a bit misleading, as the key is “protected” leave, which is the right to take a leave of absence and return to his or her job. Protected leave also means that during the leave, no work is to be done or requested of the employee.
Reminder #2: Leaves may be doubled or tripled for multiple births.
In Massachusetts, a full-time, female employee who has worked at least three (3) consecutive months as a full-time employee or has completed the “initial probationary period set by … Keep reading