Carol Fern has been employed by Bainbridge Borough for 18 years as a tax clerk. The tax clerk position is part of the bargaining unit represented by Local 10 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). When Carol 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 3-month-old baby girl was available and they could adopt her in three days. However, Carol told the adoption agency that she thought it was unfair to leave the company on such short notice because April was a busy tax season. Adoption was delayed until May 2. On April 27, Carol 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, Carol asked for 6 months of unpaid maternity leave. The request had to be approved by the Bainbridge Borough Council, which rejected the request by a 4-3 vote. However, the council did offer Carol two consecutive 90-day reasonable purpose leaves (amounting to 6 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 10: Maternity leaves not to exceed 6 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 6 months. Relief or remedy sought: Granting of the just and deserved leave request.
A Potentially Relevant Contract Provision A. Leaves of absence for a limited period without pay—not to exceed 90 days—shall be granted for any reasonable purpose. Extension to be granted with approval of Borough Council.
The union claims that the company violated the collective bargaining agreement by denying Carole Fern’s request for maternity leave. Carole Fern is clearly a new mother and is therefore entitled to the leave specified by the contract. The town argues that maternity leave is for mothers of naturally-born infants, not adopted children, and therefore, Carole Fern is not entitled to maternity leave.
So, decide which one is correct: Does maternity leave apply to adoptive mothers or only to mothers actually giving birth?