Pregnancy and childbirth are sex-linked characteristics, and any actions by an employer that adversely affect you because of your pregnancy, childbirth or your need to take maternity leave may also amount to illegal sex discrimination under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 151B; the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act; or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
An employer cannot refuse to hire or terminate you because you are pregnant. Your employer may not deny you the right to work or restrict your job functions, such as heavy lifting or travel, during or after pregnancy or childbirth, if you are physically able to perform the necessary functions of your job. Being pregnant doesn't disqualify you from working.
Employers may not treat employees and applicants, who are affected by pregnancy or related conditions, less favorably than employees who are affected by other conditions but who are similarly able or unable to work.
Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act ("MMLA") Discrimination
Under this Massachusetts law, as a female employee, you are eligible for eight weeks of unpaid maternity leave if:
- you have completed your initial probationary period, OR,
- if there is none, you have been employed by the same employer for at least three consecutive months as a full-time employee; AND
- you are absent from work for no more than eight weeks
- for the purpose of: giving birth; or adopting a child under age 18, or age 23 if the child is mentally or physically disabled; and you give your employer at least 2 weeks' notice of your anticipated date of departure and intention to return.
An employer cannot refuse to grant maternity leave to you on the grounds that doing so would constitute a hardship. The MMLA requires that your employer restore you to your previous or a similar position upon your return to work following leave. That position must have the same status, pay, length of service credit and seniority as the position that you held prior to the leave.
If you are a victim of unlawful pregnancy discrimination, childbirth discrimination, or maternity leave discrimination, we, as experienced Massachusetts discrimination lawyers, can help you get the full relief and compensation that you may be entitled to under the law - through Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination complaints (MCAD complaints); U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints (EEOC complaints); or through Massachusetts or Federal court discrimination litigation.
Our firm can protect your rights and help you fight back against the unjust actions of your employer. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.