Firms sued for mommy biases

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Discrimination can be costly because more employees are fighting back. “The number of suits based on maternal discrimination has increased steadily over the last decade,” says Calvert. Winners have emerged with awards and settlements reaching up to $11 million, although some awards have been overturned on appeal. Women aren’t the only ones going to court. A 2000 survey by the National Family Caregivers Association in Kensington, Md., which counts those who care for a family member or a friend, found that men make up a hefty 44 percent of the care-giving population. So perhaps it is not surprising that the WorkLife Program’s researchers, based on a survey of published legal arbitrations between unions and employers, found that more than 50 percent of the cases were male employees, mostly fathers, “fired or otherwise disciplined because they experienced work/family conflict and chose to take care of their other family members.” Job applicants who have filed suit have received substantial settlements from employers accused of: Developing hiring profiles designed to exclude married women and women with children. Refusing to hire a woman with a severely disabled child because of the assumption she could not perform her job. “I’m pregnant and my boss says I can’t have health insurance because it will be too expensive for the company. What do I do?” “I was going to put you in charge of the office,” said the supervisor to the pregnant worker, “but look at you now.” “God made women to have babies,” a boss told a male employee whose wife was ill after delivering their newborn, adding that his wife would have to be “in a coma or dead” for him to qualify as primary caregiver under state law and get 30 days paid leave. Believe it or not, many employers still engage in blatant discrimination against mothers and other employees who become caregivers. Dubbed ‘loose lips’ discrimination when supervisors reveal their biases through their words, “It’s so illegal and so expensive,” says employment attorney Cynthia Calvert, deputy director of the Program on WorkLife Law, based at American University’s Washington, D.C., College of Law. Revoking a job offer to an applicant with a seriously ill child because of fear of the potential for high insurance costs. In a recent case, Joann Trezza, who worked as an attorney for The Hartford, sued charging that she was passed over for several promotions that were offered to men with children and women without children. Because women with children were treated differently from employees who were fathers, the court refused Hartford, Conn.-based The Hartford’s motion to dismiss the case and it was ultimately settled in Trezza’s favor. Whether your supervisor has loose lips or you suspect your company of more subtle and systematic discriminatory policies, contact the Program on WorkLife Law ( ). Turn to this research and advocacy center if you are: An employee care-giver looking for legal resources and useful information regarding work life tensions. An employer who wants to institute practical, family-friendly policies. A government policymaker. A lawyer who works on employment discrimination cases or advises employers on how to avoid them. One of Trezza’s supervisors was accused of saying, “Women are not good planners, especially women with kids.” It doesn’t take a legal genius to know that’s a statement that won’t hold up in court. Leslie Whitaker is co-author of “The Good Girl’s Guide to Negotiating.” Write her at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more


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