Mass. Court: Maternity Job Protection Is 8 Weeks

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The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that state law is clear when it comes to maternity leave: employers are not required to guarantee a woman's job beyond eight weeks.

In a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday in the case of a woman who worked as a housekeeper for the president of a small telecommunications company.

The woman was fired from her job after taking about 11 weeks of maternity leave.

She sued, citing a guideline of the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination that says employers should notify employees in writing if they don't plan to guarantee benefits beyond eight weeks.

But the SJC found that the guideline is only advisory, citing a state law that requires employers to give women their previous jobs or similar jobs after up to eight weeks of maternity leave.

Attorney Evan Fray-Witzer, who represented the employer, says women should ask employers about company policy if they plan to take more than eight weeks off.

"But you also need to understand that the statutory protection says eight weeks, and so under the statute, that's really all you're entitled to," Fray-Witzer said.

This program aired on August 9, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.