Grievance Discussion Case 1: Is an Adoptive Mother Entitled to Maternity Leave?
Carol Fern has been employed by Bainbridge Borough for 18 years as a tax clerk. The tax clerk position in Bainbridge Borough is part of the bargaining unit rep- resented by Local 10 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
When Carol Fern and her husband found out that she was unable to conceive, they decided to adopt a child. The Ferns were notified on April 22 that a three- month-old baby girl was available and they could adopt her in three days. However, Carol Fern told the adoption agency that she thought it was unfair to leave Bainbridge Borough on such short notice be- cause April was a busy tax month. Adoption was there- fore delayed until May 2.
On April 27 Fern requested two weeks of paid vacation for May 2 to May 17. This request was granted. The day before she was to return from her paid vacation, Fern asked for six months of unpaid maternity leave. This request had to be approved by the Bainbridge Borough Council, which rejected the request by a 4–3 vote. However, the council did offer Fern two successive 90-day reasonable purpose leaves (amounting to six months of leave). On June 1 the following grievance was filed:
According to Article X, Section 4.A—Unpaid Leaves 5. Maternity on page 13 of the final agreement between Bainbridge Borough and Local Union 10—Maternity leaves not to exceed six months shall be granted at the request of an employee. Maternity leaves shall, upon the request of the employee, be extended or renewed for a period not to exceed six months. Relief or remedy sought: Granting of the just and deserved leave requested.
POTENTIALLY RELEVANT CONTRACT PROVISIONS ARTICLE X. LEAVES OF ABSENCE 1. 5. Section 4.A: Unpaid Leaves Reasonable Purpose a. Leaves of absence for a limited period with- out pay—not to exceed ninety days—shall be granted for any reasonable purpose. Extension to be granted with approval of Borough Council. b. Reasonable purpose in each case shall be agreed upon by the union and the borough. .. . Maternity a. Maternity leaves—not to exceed six months— shall be granted at the request of the employee. Maternity leaves shall, upon the request of the employee, be extended or renewed for a period not to exceed six months.