When I stumbled upon Lisa Pierson Weinberger's website, Mom, Esq., I thought, "Huh, why do moms need special legal advice?" So I asked her. And now I realize how many mistakes I made as a new mom, who was also a working mom. D'oh!
Which is exactly why Weinberger started her practice. A former employment lawyer at a large Los Angeles firm, Weinberger's perspective changed after her son was born. As it tends to do. Now, Weinberger is helping new moms on both sides of the employment line with their own leave rights and the right way to hire child care help.
We need to know this stuff, and most of us don't. When I asked Weinberger what were the three most important things a new mom needs to know, legally, she gave me the following answers:
1. Make sure that you're not leaving money on the table when it comes to your maternity leave benefits. Many employers provide some paid leave when their employees have or adopt children and several states provide disability or paid family leave benefits to new parents. Contact your state's department of labor to look into the benefits that your state provides.
2. When you bring a nanny or a baby nurse into your home, you become an employer. Avoid taking advice from well-intentioned friends who tell you that you can pay your nanny under the table and avoid overtime obligations. You can't! Just like your employer has obligations to you, you have a responsibility to the people working for your family. Seek out reliable resources that explain how to properly employ domestic employees (such as an attorney, accountant, or a state department of labor).
3. Don't let your employer put you on a "mommy track" when it's time to go back to work. If your supervisor gives you a hard time about getting your old job back or providing you with a clean, private space in which to pump if you are still breastfeeding, ask to speak with the Human Resources Department. You can feel confident when you assert your rights with HR that your requests are protected by law.
Additionally Mom, Esq. can help you understand your rights when it comes to flexible and part-time work, what state laws are on the working mom's side, and how to untangle the complicated nanny/employer relationship.
And you thought sleep deprivation would be your biggest challenge.
Image via chimothy27/Flickr