Massachusetts--Laws Relating to Pregnancy


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Prohibitions against Pregnancy Discrimination

It is an unlawful employment practice to discriminate based on sex.[1]

Though pregnancy is not mentioned in the statute, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has held that exclusion of pregnancy-related disabilities constitutes sex discrimination.[2]

For the text of the statute, click here.

For the text of the case, click here.

Pregnancy Accommodation

Massachusetts does not provide additional protections to the federal law.

Pregnancy-related Disability Accommodation

Massachusetts does not specifically accommodate pregnancy or its attendant medical conditions as a disability.

Breastfeeding Rights

A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present. The act of a mother breastfeeding her child, and any exposure of a breast that is solely for the purpose of nursing, shall not be considered lewd or unlawful conduct. No person or entity shall, with the intent to violate a mother’s right, restrict a mother who is breastfeeding her child. A place of religious instruction or worship shall not be subject.[3] It is unclear whether this authorization extends to a woman’s place of employment.

For the text of the statute, click here.

Family and Childcare Leave Laws

Employers with six or more Employees – Pregnancy Leave

Employees are allowed up to 8 weeks unpaid leave for giving birth, adopting a child under the age of 18, or adopting a child under the age of 23, if the child is mentally or physically disabled. The Act provides maternity leave to female employees only.  The employee must give at least two weeks notice. An employer cannot refuse to grant leave on the grounds that doing so would constitute a hardship. If maternity leave is unpaid, an employee may substitute any accrued paid sick, vacation or personal time.[4]

For the text of the statute, click here.

Employers with six or more Employees – Pregnancy Leave Compensation

Leave is not required to be paid nor does maternity leave need to include in the computation of benefits any rights and advantages incident to employment. The employer does not have to pay for the costs of any benefits, plans, or programs during the maternity leave.[5]

For the text of the statute, click here.

For the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, click here.

For the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, click here.

For further information on your pregnancy rights, contact Legal Momentum.

Copyright 2013 Legal Momentum

[1] Mass. Gen. Laws c. 151B, § 4

[2] See Massachusetts Elec. Co. v. Massachusetts Comm'n Against Discrimination, 375 Mass. 160, 168, 375 N.E.2d 1192, 1198 (1978)

[3] Mass. Gen. Laws c. 111, § 221

[4] Mass. Gen. Law c. 149, §105D

[5] Id.