The challenges facing working moms and pregnant employees have been highlighted recently in the New York Times. Journalist Katherine Goldstein recently published an article in the Times on “The Open Secret of Anti-Mom Bias at Work.” In it, she argues that mothers face many kinds of discrimination in the workplace, much of it open and blatant. For example, a women’s health leader (and mother) was speaking to Ms. Goldstein about return-to-work programs for new moms, when she began to talk about a former employee who got pregnant and said, “‘[i]t was distracting her. I didn’t think she was going to be committed enough to the job, so I had to let her go.’”
Galvanized by this casual admission of illegal discrimination, Goldstein argues that women need to speak up more in public about the ways they are discriminated against, “#MeToo style.” At the same time, she recognizes that there are reasons women do not want to speak out, including fear of jeopardizing current jobs, and the fact that moms are still negatively judged by their employers and society for returning to work after having a child.
Perhaps for these and other reasons, #MomsToo has not yet caught on as a hashtag on Twitter. New York Magazine recently published the (anonymous) stories of six women from a variety of fields who were discriminated against at work while pregnant. Interestingly, only one of the moms mentioned speaking to a lawyer, and said “[o]n a practical level, I was just not going to spend the time and money suing them.”
Our Firm’s Pregnancy Project is a resource for pregnant employees and their families. The Pregnancy Project training helps current and future moms recognize and document pregnancy discrimination and educates them on how to take action with or without filling a lawsuit. It can be useful for moms who face discrimination at work to consult with an attorney. Obtaining legal assistance can make conversations with their boss or HR more effective and may help avoid a lawsuit when the matter can be resolved. Whether or not moms choose to use #MomsToo to highlight their experiences, they should feel free to seek legal assistance help to combat discrimination.