Entries in Maternity Leave (2)


Hillary Clinton Talks Maternity Leave, Balancing Work and Family

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned an official event at the State Department focused on the importance of balancing work and family into a personal conversation, sharing her own experiences as a mother, wife, daughter, lawyer and stateswoman.

Speaking to a packed crowd at the kickoff of the department’s 2012 National Work-Life and Family Month, Clinton seemed particularly proud of how she managed to get her old law firm in Arkansas to establish a maternity leave program.

“Many years ago when I was pregnant, I was in a law firm,” she said. “I was the only female partner.  And they’d never had a female partner, and certainly not a pregnant female partner.  And they literally just were not sure what to do with me.  I would walk down the corridor, getting more and more pregnant, and the men in the firm would, like, look away. Shh. Never say a word. And I just kind of thought I’m just going to wait to see if anybody says anything to me about the fact that I’m going to have a baby.  So nobody ever did. ”

An animated Clinton had to pause for audience laughter several times during her story.

“Eventually, Feb. 27, 1980, I gave birth to my daughter,” she added. “And I was in the hospital when one of my partners called to say congratulations, and then in the course of it asked, ‘Well, when are you coming back to work?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe in four months.’  And that’s how I created the firm’s first-ever maternity leave policy.”

The crowd erupted in applause.

The former first lady and senator talked about how the State Department has implemented more programs, better day care, rooms for mothers to breast feed and more flexible hours to help accommodate working families. She also stressed that balancing time for life is not only about women.

“I think that this is an issue that is not a woman’s issue,” she said. “It is a human issue and a family issue.  After all, there is little doubt that balancing work and family responsibilities is done in one way or another by people everywhere, every day.”

Clinton said that employer support should extend beyond parenting needs and also consider employees who are taking care of aging parents, which is a growing trend. She again used her own experience, having cared for her mother, who died last year.

“My mother lived with me until her death a year ago,” she said. “And it was wonderful that she was in good health, but it was also something I had to consciously think about to ensure that we were getting a step ahead of what her health needs were and her physical challenges. … And it took time, which I was happy to give, but it’s something that more and more of us are going to be having to do.”

Clinton stressed that these conversations, which have often been dubbed “the mommy wars,” should be about acceptance and understanding, not judgment.

“Sometimes, conversations about balancing family and work lead to arguments instead of a search for agreement,” said Clinton. “And it is absolutely clear there is no right or wrong way to have a family, or even whether you do have a family.  There is no right or wrong way to build a career, or even if you do have a career.  Women and men need to find approaches that work for them, and that approach may change over the course of your life.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New York Mom of Twins Born Via Surrogate Denied Leave

John Guillemin / Bloomberg News(NEW YORK) -- A woman who used a surrogate to give birth to her twins is suing her employer in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts for refusing to grant her paid maternity leave.

Kara Krill, a clinical business manager on New York's Long Island, has claimed breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and negligent misrepresentation against Cubist Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Lexington, Massachussetts.  She seeks an injunction and compensatory and punitive damages for employment law violations.

Krill, who developed a reproductive disability called Asherman's syndrome after she gave birth to her first child in June 2007, and her husband hired a surrogate mother, or gestational carrier, to carry and deliver their second child.  After learning the gestational carrier was pregnant with twins in November 2010, Krill informed her employer that she expected to be on maternity leave when the twins were born in May 2010, according to the suit.

Krill and her husband also obtained a prebirth order that "established the legal and genetic parentage of Drill's twins without having to institute adoption proceedings," according to court documents.

When Krill had her first child in June 2007, she received 13 weeks of paid leave under Cubist's maternity leave policy.

But a Cubist human resources employee informed Krill she would be entitled to adopting parents' leave of five days.  The company provides adopting parents who work 20 hours or more per week five paid days of leave plus up to $4,000 in expenses for the adoption, according to court documents.  The company's paternity leave policy also provides male employees who work 20 hours or more per week five paid days of leave.

In an email to the human resources employee, Krill complained about what she said was discriminatory treatment.

"As we have previously informed you, the children being born are mine and were conceived with my husband.  They are only being carried by [a gestational carrier] as a result of my physical disability... Cubist's treatment of me differently than other employees having babies is not fair and is placing me in an untenable condition," she wrote, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also claims that Krill's direct supervisor subjected Krill to "verbal harassment and other adverse treatment," "frequently" patronizing Krill about her disability.  That employee "told her pointedly on several different occasions that she should not be entitled to any leave from Cubist for the birth of her children, whether paid or unpaid," according to court documents.

When Krill informed her boss she was required to be with her newborn children for a minimum of 12 weeks, her boss told Krill that she could "'put [her] twins in daycare,' so she could come back to work sooner.'"  Her boss also informed Krill she was "changing her sales quota expectations and taking away one of Krill's largest customer accounts and assigning it to another Cubist employee who was not disabled, and not going out on maternity leave."

Francis McLoughlin, director of corporate communications at Cubist, said the company could not comment on ongoing litigation but that it "tries to maintain positive work relations at the company."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio