Pregnancy Discrimination at Work in 2012 Is Mind-Baffling

Rant 16

pregnant workerIt's amazing how often we see stories of women discriminated against in the workplace and fired just for being pregnant. I'm always shocked and can't believe anyone in this day and age could do it so blatantly. But they do ... all too often.

Just last month, a woman won a settlement against a Subway restaurant for an incident in which she went in to apply for a job and was told they couldn't hire her because she was pregnant. And she's not alone. Statistics show that the number of pregnancy discrimination charges increased about 15 percent in the last 10 years. It's such a pressing problem that the government is now ramping up efforts to help combat it -- and it's about time.

This week in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held a meeting in which experts testified about the problem. But when it comes to understanding why this still happens -- 35 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed -- commissioners are somewhat perplexed.

EEOC Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru said, "Why have we missed the boat? It’s a puzzle to me.” But it's a puzzle we must solve.

Even if you keep your job, once you have a child, you may get paid less than your coworkers. One expert referred to a “motherhood wage penalty" that costs moms as much as 5 percent in wages ... per child!

It infuriates me to think about it. I've been working for a lot of years in a lot of places, from government to Fortune 500 companies, and never have I found motherhood or lack thereof to be what makes someone an asset or detriment to a business or organization. Do people with children need to take unexpected days off or leave early on occasion? Absolutely. But we are also some of the most dedicated workers out there, because it's not just ourselves we're responsible for -- it's our children too.

Are some moms bad workers? Sure, but so are some single 20-somethings who party every night.

Emotion aside, it's flat out discrimination -- that's why there's a law against it. Pregnancy isn't a disability, and just because men can't get pregnant doesn't mean they don't have plenty of parental responsibilities -- or should have if they've fathered children. To assume a mother is the one who needs to take the care of the kids or that she can't work as well if she does is outrageous.

The commission promises to start cracking down on businesses that don't allow women to make a living at a time they likely need the money the most and will "vigorously enforce the anti-discrimination laws." Great, I hope they do, but how sad that they must.

Have you ever been a victim of pregnancy discrimination?

Image via sapienssolutions/Flickr

baby prep, the pregnant life


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vanes... vanessa5470's a weird topic. Of course one shouldn't be denied a job becasue they're pregnant, but seeing it in another pov...there might be a better candidate than you who isn't knocked up and won't eventually leave or have the new baby baggage.

My FIL is a director a college dept. and hires/fires. Well, he was telling me that he had a worker who has pg who would clock in, sneak into a dorm room and nap for the majority of the day. What do you do then? She was caught on several occasions by several people, and as much as it hurt my FIL, he had to fire her. Of course, she's trying to sue the university now -_-;;

In my case, I had my baby in September last year. I'm an elementary school teacher and could've easily started the school year in August, but it wouldn't have been fair to myself, my would be studenta, my baby, nor my family.

nonmember avatar Lauren

This is tough because while pregnancy discrimination is wrong, I've also had co-workers completely take advantage of the system which makes the problem worse.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

It infuriates me to think about it. I've been working for a lot of years in a lot of places, from government to Fortune 500 companies, and never have I found motherhood or lack thereof to be what makes someone an asset or detriment to a business or organization. Do people with children need to take unexpected days off or leave early on occasion? Absolutely.

You hit the nail right on the head in the second sentence.  Needing to take unexpected days off or leave early does not make you an asset and IS a detriment to a business or organization.  No good mother is, or should be expected to be, equally dedicated to job and child.  The child will always win, and to an employer, that's unattractive.  And the arguement that being a parent somehow makes you a more dedicated worker - when you're there - doesn't work.  There are plenty of equally dedicated people who aren't going to need maternity leave, sick days, snow days, early release days, etc.  All that time off is costly and detrimental to productivity.  The legal obligation for employers to accomodate these needs are, I think, exactly why women are less valuable in the workplace - the cost of the accomodations come right out of our salaries. 

NEmom95 NEmom95

I was just going to say that companies in my city don't come out and say they will not hire you because you are pregnant. They always say that they hired a "more" qualified candidate for the position, because they know they can be slapped with a law suit if they say anything along those lines was the reason for not hiring a person that is pregnant. Just like when I was 6 months pregnant my position was dissolved and I was forced to apply for jobs within the company because I knew I wouldn't be hired outside the company and I was scared that I was going to get laid off before I could go on maternity leave. That would have messed up my insurance not to mention I needed the income to help pay bills and take care of our son. I know I wouldn't of been able to sue my employer if I did get laid off while pregnant because there were many positions that they got rid of and those employees were not pregnant.

I hope the government does fix this problem but it will be difficult to prove if more companies do the same generic reason for not hiring someone. I can see where they are coming from though when they have a position that they need to fill and train a person and know that if they hire someone that is pregnant they will be on leave soon and they will need someone to fill that position while someone is on maternity leave, so why not just hire someone else that is not. It will be a tough road to fix but well worth it for everyone to be treated equal!

Jespren Jespren

Hoticedcoffee hit the nail on the head. Like it or not, moms take more time off, and much more unscheduled time off. That means you ARE NOT doing 'equal work for equal pay'. You want equal pay then you must do equal work. Maybe that means dad needs to start wracking up the sick days, you work from home, have flex time, part time, or taKe a break from working entirely while your kids need you. But complaining about being 'discriminated' against because you are getting less oppertunities for less work is just foolish entitlement, and it's what gives working moms a bad name. If working mom/pregnant worker is putting forth 5% less than Joe Average, then they should be happy to be receiving 5% less pay. Remember, equal pay for equal work.

nonmember avatar Chels

What I don't understand is why you need to throw another group of people under the bus to get your point across. You didn't need to say:
"Are some moms bad workers? Sure, but so are some single 20-somethings who party every night. "
You could have simply said that there are plenty of bad workers/ unmotivated people out there. The minute you need to take a jab at another group of people (especially single 20-somethings who take a lot of abuse in society)your argument is invalid.

nonmember avatar Kelli

No, hoticedcoffee did NOT hit the nail on the head. People without children also have to take unexpected days off or leave early on occasion. I have coworkers with elderly parents, sick relatives, court dates, or multiple health problems of their own. All of which require them to take unexpected time off. I have 2 children and one more on the way. I am currently maxed out on the vacation time I can accrue because I so rarely take a day off. Even though our family went to Disney World for a week last fall, and I took the week between Christmas and New Year's Day off of work. I earned that vacation time, and choosing to use it doesn't make me less of an asset than any other employee without children who uses their vacation time. I also have almost six weeks of sick leave accrued. Just because I have kids doesn't mean I'm constantly skipping work to take them to doctor's appointments or staying home with them because they have the flu. Sure, not every parent is lucky enough to have kids without health problems, but just because someone has children does not make them less of an asset. Maybe your coworker who leaves early or takes a longer lunch to deal with a child-related issue is bringing work home and does twice as much work there to make up for that time missed. I know I do, even though I used my vacation or sick leave to cover whatever time I missed at work.

ashjo85 ashjo85

Hoticed is right, money drives decisions in workplaces, and as many hard-working expecting moms there are, there are equally as many who take advantage of the system. And I think the premise of the discrimination suits are full of holes. I mean, sure, they aren't hiring you because you're pregnant. But if you didn't get them on tape SAYING that was the reason, how can you even prove it!? You can't.

paren... parentalrights1

Maybe all these worthless working moms should just quit and get on government assistance then since they're such a burden to companies.

Please. All the time I've been working, the moms were the hardest workers and most responsible. It was other people that were lazy or wanted to call in all the time so they could go to some stupid party, concert, or go out with some guy/girl. The parents had way more work ethic.

Nycti... Nyctimene

hoticedcoffee did hit it on the head.

Think of it from the business's POV. Applicant A is four months pregnant, meaning they'll likely get only six months of work from her or less before she quits. They'll have to redo the entire application process again. Worse, they may be obligated to pay weeks (or even a year in some countries like here in Canada) of maternity pay for someone who barely started at their job. Or they can hire Applicant B, who isn't pregnant and has the potential to work for them for years without them having to pay mat leave, hold a position and doesn't have the risk of taking lots of time off.

As a great movie said; It's not personal, it's business.
And as our mothers all told us...the world isn't fair. ;-)

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