Massachusetts Court Says It's OK to Fire New Moms

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Planning your baby registry in Massachusetts? Don't forget to add unemployment! Credit: meemal, Flickr

New moms in Massachusetts have more to look forward to than just breast-feeding and late nights -- they can also look forward to being fired if they don't go back to the office after eight weeks.

The Boston Herald reports that the state's highest court ruled in favor of allowing employers to fire new mothers if they take more than eight weeks for maternity leave.

The ruling came after Sandy Stephens, a housekeeper at a small Quincy, Mass. telecommunications firm, was fired after taking 11 weeks off after giving birth. Stephens claims her supervisor approved an unpaid maternity leave that was longer than eight weeks, but when she called her workplace in anticipation of returning there, she was told she'd been fired.

The ruling came despite the fact that Stephens cited a state guideline that advises employers that employees should be notified in writing if their job won't be held for longer than eight weeks. The Herald reports that the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the guideline is not a law.

At least one Massachusetts mom tells the Herald that the ruling will force her to quit her job outright. Natalie Lukasik, 32, of Rockland, Mass., says she will give notice before her Nov. 14 due date.

"They wouldn't hold my position (beyond eight weeks)," she tells the Herald. "There is no pay, there is no maternity leave."

Portia Wu, vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based organization National Partnership for Women & Families, tells the Herald that the ruling is "astonishing."

Massachusetts state law gives women up to eight weeks of unpaid maternity leave, and federal laws guarantee 12 weeks of leave for employees of companies that have 50 or more employees.

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