shutterstock_125996114I’m enRAGEd (can’t you feel the “rage” in those CAPS). I don’t like to tell people what to do, but you should be enRAGEd as well. Why? Because the New York Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy missed the first 2 games of the baseball season – voluntarily. He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t injured. He just took the first 2 games off. Those first 2 games actually spanned a period of 3 days. Didn’t anybody tell Murphy that this is baseball, our national pastime?

You’re not enRAGEd yet, are you?

Well how about if I told you that Murphy missed those 2 games so that he could be with his wife as she gave birth, by C-section, to their first child? Yes, he actually chose to be present for his child’s birth instead of being present for games 1 and 2 of a 162-game season.

Still not enRAGEd? Well get ready for this.

Murphy was criticized — harshly — for choosing to be present for his child’s birth instead of playing second base. Murphy should be applauded, not criticized. Let me hear that RAGE!

Here is just a snipit of what radio host Mike Francesa said:

“I don’t know why you need three days off, I’m going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you’re a Major League Baseball player. I’m sorry, but you do. Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple days, you know that.”

And there’s more (and I would not be able to make this up if I tried). Former NFL star Boomer Esiason thinks that Murphy’s wife should have had her C-section before opening day so that Murphy wouldn’t have missed any games:

“Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts . . . I need to be at opening day. I’m sorry. This is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”

If it’s any consolation, Esiason has apologized for his comments (you can’t un-ring that bell, Boomer). As for Francesa, he apparently stands by his insensitive and ENRAGING remarks.

So, what does any of this have to do with employment law? Actually, quite a bit. The reaction to Murphy’s decision (or at least the reaction voiced by Francesa and Esiason) got me thinking about societal views toward maternity and paternity leave policies. Is there a social stigma attached to paternity leave? Do men take fewer days off work for the birth of their children, and to care for their wives during that time, than they would have taken but for some social stigma? If so, that’s unfortunate.

Major League Baseball rules provide for 3 days of paternity leave. Murphy took all 3 (and good for him). Outside of the Major League Baseball context, employers with 50 or more employees are obligated to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees — male and female — for the birth of a child.

I have never seen any statistics on this, but I’m now curious how many FMLA-eligible men take their full 12 weeks of leave for the birth of a child. My guess is that the percentage is quite low. Perhaps that is because of some social stigma. Unfortunately, the insensitive remarks uttered by Francesa and Esiason may only have made matters worse for men who, like Murphy, value family.

One last thought. Am I the only who thinks that Francesa and Esiason deserve some time-off from work, perhaps in the form of an unpaid suspension?


Andy hopes you will join us at Stearns Weaver Miller’s upcoming 24th Annual Labor and Employment Law Seminar on May 1, 2014 at the Trump National Doral Miami.  Please click here for further details.