Ohio Law Blocks Pregnancy Leave for Women

If you’ve read my other posts about family-friendly workplaces, you’ll know that the 12 month stipulation on the Family Medical Leave Act is a problem for me.  The Ohio Supreme Court is currently reviewing a discrimination claim that could have a huge impact on women in the state.  The suit deals with the policy of some companies to deny all leave until an employee has gained 12 months of tenure.  A woman working for a nursing home was fired after taking doctor-prescribed leave during her pregnancy because she had only worked there 8 months.

Because the Ohio Law applies to all people regardless of sex, some of the justices think that the law is fair,

“(The policy) seems to be very evenhanded,” Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger said. “It says to all employees, male and female, that no employee may get leave in the first year.”

I think this is very narrow-minded and forgets 2 very important factors.  1.  Only women can become pregnant and thus a law like this places undue burden on a specific segment of society (women of child-bearing age) which fulfills the definition of discrimination.  2.  They are missing the much larger point that everyone benefits from good prenatal care and other family-friendly workplace policies.  Companies that claim that maternity (or parental) leave would cost too much are forgetting the cost of not retaining good employees.  Studies have shown that with regard to sick leave in general, there is an estimated net savings – even after factoring in the cost to employers of the sick leave – when turnover costs are considered.  In California it was estimated that employers would save total $2,295 million annually, from reduced costs of turnover if sick leave were paid.
Companies denying needed pregnancy and maternity leave* is very short-sighted and shows where our country puts its true value (hint hint: $ not people).
*I use maternity leave to mean specifically the “period of incapacitation” following birth.  I certainly believe that parental leave for infant bonding is important but it is an even greater travesty that we don’t even have basic maternity leave for birth recovery or pregnancy leave for complications.  If we can’t solve the basic health issues that these present then we are far from universal parental leave.

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5 thoughts on “Ohio Law Blocks Pregnancy Leave for Women

  1. Well, maternity leave is not an issue with me & i’m now self-employed (tho at a doctor’s office & if i was gone for too long he might want someone else there).

    But frankly, every company i’ve worked for treated us as if we were all “cannon fodder.” I worked hospitals for years & not one of the remembered “the cost of not retaining good employees.” In my opinion they treated us like interchangeable, easily replicable legos, or something.

    Not denying that this needs to be addressed, but stating that i’ve never found a company that was really concerned about keeping their employees really happy. They said that they did & did a lot of stupid programs to try to convince us that they were concerned about employee morale, but any time an employee brought a legitimate concern or possible improvement to the management/administration that employee was ridiculed & several times quickly found themselves out the door.


  2. My Situation: My husband and I had been trying to conceive for 15 months. On March 16, 2010 we both lost our jobs. The company we worked for (he, for 10 years, me for 6) closed our office and outsourced our jobs to India and the Dominican Republic. As fate would have it, we conceived our first child around 3/7/10. Although we are very excited, I feel as though I have a cloud over me. I want to work. I love my profession and eagerly anticipate new employment; however, I’m concerned that since I will not be at a job for at least a year they can just kick me to the curb in November when I have my child.

    My Question: I am seeking clear definition of the current 2010 Ohio law regarding maternity leave. Are there any resources you are aware of from which I may obtain this information? I’ve been unsuccessful in my attempts.

    Personal Commentary (because I need to vent my frustration. Feel free to skip): It’s so sad in this day in age, in our rich, humanitarian, developed county, a mother cannot give birth to a child, especially so when it is a first child, without guarantee that she will have a job to go back to. A child deserves to have a healthy start and sufficient bonding time, and a mother a chance to heal. It was our choice to lose our jobs, and here we are both unemployed and pregnant. I feel as though my government has left me hanging out to dry. With the unemployment situation being what it is in Ohio, why is it our lawmakers decide that’s it’s legal for employers to fire mothers for taking time off to give birth (which would make them ineligible for unemployment benefits – correct?). This legislation is a double blow to people like me; pregnant and jobless due to corporate greed.


  3. Revision to Paragraph 3, line 5 – “It was {NOT} our choice to lose our jobs…” (Sorry, tired eyes missed that). It’s important to me that I am clear on the point that I want to work. Thank you for listening and for any assistance you may be able to provide.


  4. Anonymous – I’m so sorry for you job loss but so happy about your pregnancy. I don’t know if you believe in God but I definitely believe that he has a plan and a baby is always a gift even when it seems scary.

    As far as maternity leave. As far as I know Ohio has no laws that govern it. It is up to the company. They have to follow FMLA law though.

    I did find this: http://www.govbenefits.gov/govbenefits_en.portal;jsessionid=1MT6LtrQZVPG28D96L1B5ynJWtqR20z2D2kPtQChvh3bdLJTTr18!-1198796269?_nfpb=true&locateStateFlow_1_actionOverride=%2FLocateStateFlow%2Freport&_windowLabel=locateStateFlow_1&locateStateFlow_1bid=1610&locateStateFlow_1_code=OH&_pageLabel=gbcc_page_locate_state
    Ohio’s program for pregnant women who can’t afford health insurance. I really think that there are programs to cover your prenatal and child birth needs. Call your county’s health board too – there has to be a program to help! Good luck to you and keep in touch if you can. You can email me at admin at babydustdiaries dot com.


  5. Question: I went on maternity leave approximately 2 weeks before I gave birth to my daughter. Metlife has denied my claim because I didn’t have sick or vacation time while I was out for the two weeks before my daughter was born. They said I needed to be diagnosed with a disability in order for them to approve my leave. Are they allowed to do this?


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