Posted 04-12-2014

My sister is a lifelong New York Mets fan. Good years and bad years alike, she goes to their games, watches them on TV, reads about them, and roots for them.

Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has been making headlines recently, but not for his performance on the field. After receiving word the night before the Mets’ home opener that his wife’s water had broken, Murphy took paternity leave and flew from New York to his home in Florida, arriving in time for the birth of 8-pound, 2-ounce son Noah about an hour before the first pitch was thrown at Citi Field. (The Washington Nationals won, 9-7.) The Mets had the next day off before resuming the series (The Nats prevailed, 5-1.) Murphy flew back and rejoined the Mets in time for the third game. (It didn’t help—the Mets dropped that one to Washington, 8-2.)

Murphy was criticized and insulted by several New York sports radio hosts for choosing to be with his wife and new son instead of in the ballpark. One commentator remarked: “You’re a major league baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help. What are you gonna do, sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?” From another came: “Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day.” (The second radio host later apologized for his remarks.)

Mets manager Terry Collins was supportive and said the criticism of Murphy was unfair.

What this means to you:

Paternity leave can be a legal right. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a variety of family-related reasons, including becoming a new dad. However, the FMLA doesn’t apply to small employers (fewer than 50 workers).

About a dozen states have their own family leave laws, and three – California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island – provide for paid paternity leave. In addition, many companies offer either paid or unpaid paternity leave as a matter of policy.

Let’s go, Mets!

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.