I’m getting older. So are you, by the way.
There are a number of ways that this understanding becomes apparent for me. My back aches. I groan when I tie my shoes. I am a purveyor of bad jokes. I yell at the news on the television. I still watch television, etc.
But I am also starting to see folks from my childrens’ generation having kids. It delights me when I hear about a new baby on the way. The best thing that ever happened to me was becoming a dad, and I am always happy to hear when a friend or client of mine is about to join the parenting club.
Last week a friend of mine got in touch with me. His wife is due to deliver their first child within the month. It is an exciting time for them. I have tried to share some wisdom. His own wisdom will develop quickly.
In any event, his wife is a teacher in a district in central Connecticut. Her union contract says that she is entitled to twelve weeks of FMLA leave. That is the law. Under the contract, it also provides that when an employee takes FMLA leave, the employee is required to exhaust accumulated paid leave time where the leave is covered by the FMLA. The paid leave exhaustion runs with the FMLA leave. So the maximum available leave is twelve weeks, but it will be paid while the paid leave time is being exhausted.
That is fine with my friend who wants his wife to be able to use her sick time while she is caring for her newborn.
Here is the issue though. Her due date is July 1, which is after the current school year ends. So for the months of July and August she will not be required to use FMLA leave time because she will be on summer break.
But when the school year begins at the end of August, she will then begin using her FMLA leave of twelve weeks. The district has told her though that she will not be able to use up her paid leave time while out on FMLA because she will have had the child during the summer break.
That makes no sense. And it violates the contract. And it is probably illegal.
Suppose the woman was not having a baby on July 1. Suppose instead she broke her leg on July 1 and required surgery and convalescence that would keep her out of work through the month of September.
For the month of September she would simply apply for FMLA and use her sick time concurrently with the FMLA leave so that she could get paid. There would be no dispute.
The employer’s dispute in the present case is that because the woman is delivering a child on July 1, and is not injured herself but rather caring for her child in September, she is not eligible for paid leave. The district is wrong. And it is probably discriminating against the employee due to her pregnancy.
Under Connecticut law it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because of her pregnancy, including the denial of employment rights and opportunities due to pregnancy. In this case, it looks like the employer is doing just that.