Thursday, October 25, 2007

OCRC to vote on new maternity leave regulations - part 2

One short follow-up to this morning's post on the new OCRC maternity leave regulations. The USA Today article I linked to this morning talked about the rise of the "sandwich generation" — people who care both for children and an aging relative. This notion will have even greater meaning in Ohio if all employers have to provide 12 weeks of maternity leave to all employees. Take for example a pregnant employee who lawfully takes 12 weeks of FMLA leave during a year to care for a sick parent, and then in the same year gives birth. That employee would be entitled to an additional 12 weeks of leave under Ohio's new proposed regulations. Thus, pregnant women would receive double benefits. One modification to the hypothetical, however, illustrates the potential fundamental unfairness in the new regulations. Instead of the employee being a pregnant woman, let's suppose the employee is a man with a pregnant wife. If that man takes 12 weeks of leave to care for a sick parent, he would not be able to take even 1 day of extra leave for the birth of his child, and his employer would coldly have the right to terminate him in that situation. Everyone should be concerned about the potential disparities in implementing OAC 4112-5-05(G), both in its current and amended forms, and the potential for sex discrimination claims brought by male employees who are denied the same benefits as their female counterparts.