Supreme Court Sides With Nursing Home in Maternity Leave Ruling

June 22, 2010News Releases

On June 22, 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision in McFee v. Nursing Care Management of America, Inc. In that decision, which represents a victory for rationality and uniformity in the workplace, the Ohio Supreme Court held that Ohio law does not prohibit uniformly-applied minimum length of service leave requirements.

In its decision, the Court held that the Ohio law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy does not require that pregnant employees be treated more favorably than other employees who are temporarily disabled from working. Instead, Ohio law requires that pregnant women shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work. A leave policy that imposes a minimum length of service requirement treats all employees who are temporarily disabled from working the same. Therefore, the policy is pregnancy blind and does not constitute direct evidence of discrimination.

"With this ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court has established uniformity in the Ohio law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex," said Jan E. Hensel, Labor and Employment Partner with Dinsmore & Shohl's Columbus office and lead attorney for Nursing Care Management of America.

"Both Ohio and federal courts have held that uniformly-applied leave policies do not constitute pregnancy discrimination when applied to employees who require maternity leave in the same manner that they are applied to other employees who are temporarily disabled from working," said Hensel. "The Ohio Civil Rights Commission, however, has taken the position that pregnant employees are entitled to preferential treatment if they do not qualify for leave under existing leave policies. Now, Ohio employers can safely rely upon their leave policies that treat all temporarily-disabled employees the same."

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