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June 2008

Commissioner Says Massachusetts

Maternity Leave Law May Apply To Men
During a recent speech, Martin B. Ebel, extends so far, though Mr. Ebel claims that
one of the commissioners for the Massa- he had little choice in light of the Supreme
chusetts Commission Against Discrimina- Judicial Court’s decision in Goodridge v.
tion (MCAD), announced that the MCAD will Dept. of Public Health, which legalized same
apply the Massachusetts Maternity Leave sex marriage, and the recent amendment
Act (MMLA) in a gen- to the MMLA providing leave
der-neutral manner, “[B]oth men and to parents who adopt.
despite the fact that
language of the act women will appar- Employers that wish
to avoid the possibility of a
purports to cover only ently be able to costly MCAD complaint may
“female employee[s]”. claim a right to… wish to consider making
Under this novel leave following the immediate changes to their
interpretation, both office policies and employee
men and women will
birth or adoption of handbooks to implement
apparently be able a child.” gender-neutral maternity/
to claim a right to 8 paternity leave policies.
weeks of unpaid leave following the birth or
If you would like to learn more
adoption of a child.
about how your busi-
This change in the enforcement policy by ness may be impacted
the MCAD comes as a rather shocking sur- by the MCAD’s recent
prise to many and contradicts the agen- announcement, call
cy’s own guidelines on the subject. Those Joe Laferrera at
guidelines, which will apparently undergo Gesmer Updegrove
revision, currently state that “The express LLP. He can be
language of the MMLA provides leave reached at joe.
only for female employees. Therefore, laferrera@gesmer.
the MCAD will not assume jurisdiction com or (617)
over claims by male employees seek- 350-6800.
ing leave.” It remains to be seen if the
MCAD’s authority to interpret the law

40 Broad Street, Boston, MA 02109 • 617.350.6800 •

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