The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act tests the integrity of the pro-life movement

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that all pregnant workers can get minor workplace adjustments they need to continue working during pregnancy.”

This is not a rare problem for women who cannot afford to lose their income. The National Women’s Law Center has compiled a six-page list (.pdf) of real cases involving real women all over the U.S.

Jill Filipovic has a sampling of those cases here. Go read them.

These women are being confronted with an awful set of choices: Lose your job or terminate your pregnancy or take a big health risk.

None of those choices is good or fair. No one should be forced to choose among them. I don’t want anyone to lose their job, and I don’t want anyone compelled to terminate a pregnancy, and I don’t want the health of pregnant women or their future children put at risk.

Anti-abortion Christians in America are rightly outraged by reports of compulsory abortion in places like China. We have compulsory abortion here in America too — it’s just compelled by market forces and the private sector rather than by the state.

Like about a third of my fellow evangelicals, I’m pro-choice. That means I don’t want anyone — the government or some corporate employer or some evangelical institution — dictating to women what they must choose. So I support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The more vocal two-thirds of my fellow evangelicals who identify as “pro-life” ought to support it too.

This is yet another one of those places where such pro-lifers get to show the rest of us whether or not they are who they claim to be. If they are really motivated by the value they place on the lives and health of the unborn, then we ought to see them lining up to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

But if they are really motivated by an anti-feminist impulse to control and punish women, then we should not expect to see them supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Or if abortion politics are really just a convenient tool for getting the “social conservative” rubes to support anti-worker and anti-union policies, then likewise, we shouldn’t expect to see the “pro-life” claim translate into support for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

This legislation matters first of all because it would protect the rights of pregnant workers. But it also matters because it tests the integrity of the pro-life movement. So far, that movement is failing that test.

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  • Kubricks_Rube

    This is more or less on topic so this seems to be a good opportunity to share a baffling argument I recently came across:

    Why should a state or employer provide day care, child care, comprehensive pre-natal and post-natal health care, or other more pro-family policies when pregnancy is a private choice, and when women have no other excuse besides their own decision to have a child? By holding up free contraception, Plan B, and sterilization, society is effectively washing its hands of the need to provide more equity for women who are mothers in the work force.

    Doesn’t the second sentence cancel out the first, and couldn’t this just as easily be reversed? It seems to suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of what “choice” means. I can see the point if someone supports only one set of policies or the other- whichever one or the other- that they are effectively limiting choice. But supporting both sets of policies allows the most options for a woman who faces a decision about her pregnancy. How on earth is that society washing its hands of the issue?

  • smrnda

     I think their position (as idiotic as it is) is that there is no need to accommodate pregnant workers unless pregnancy totally unavoidable and involuntary, like disability, since workers could always choose not to be pregnant. As you said, it misunderstands ‘choice’ meaning ‘here are two choices and you should be able to make both of them.’

  • Matri

    As you said, it misunderstands ‘choice’ meaning ‘here are two choices and you should be able to make both of them.’

    They also misunderstand “biology”, “pregnancy”, “empathy”, and “Christian”.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Just to clarify, the piece I linked to is from a pro-life Catholic who seems to think that supporting abortion and contraception access is indistinguishable from being prejudiced against mothers; therefore she thinks it’s silly for us to also support policies that help working mothers. Like I said, it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of choice.

  • Lunch Meat

    Just to clarify, the piece I linked to is from a pro-life Catholic who seems to think that supporting abortion and contraception access is indistinguishable from being prejudiced against mothers; therefore she thinks it’s silly for us to also support policies that help working mothers. Like I said, it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of choice.

    That was going to be my guess. It’s a false dichotomy; since liberals don’t believe that pregnancy is the ideal choice for every woman, we must hate it and think it’s evil. So it’s illogical to support policies that make it easier for women to have children, and we must be doing it because we like big government or something.

  • The_L1985

     When I was still hardcore pro-life, I honestly didn’t understand that there weren’t already programs in place to make sure that everyone who wanted kids could have them.  I also didn’t understand how strong the human sex drive is, or that it was possible for married people NOT to afford or want children.

    I honestly thought that the only reason anybody would want abortion to be legal was because they looked down on motherhood.  I had never seen contradicting evidence, and once I did, I went pro-choice because I don’t like being lied to by people who claim to be protecting children.

  • katsjungle

     And yet

  • Gotchaye

    The idea is that being pregnant and having a kid is a choice exactly like any other.  It’s a hobby, basically, so mothers don’t have any special claim to accommodation.  And in fairness we do see some people genuinely believing something like this.

    But it doesn’t actually seem to be widespread, and this is confusing to libertarianish types who are trying to understand liberals.  They get some of the way there – they can make sense of wanting women to be able to choose between being mothers and not being mothers in the context of a particular incentive structure without government interference – but they can’t wrap their heads around the idea that liberals might still want the government to positively alter the incentive structure.

  • Si

     The false idea that anything that is a “choice” does not deserve accommodations by the state is one that drives me up the wall.

    We have accommodations for choice written into the Constitution. It’s called freedom of conscience, folks.

    It goes like this: I’m a Jew. While I was born into the religion, there’s nothing stopping me from converting out of it. It’s my choice to remain a Jew. And yet the government is bound to accommodate my choice, and the majority of conservative thinkers would agree that’s right and fair, and that it would be bad and wrong for the state to penalize me for my choice of religion.

    This is why I heave a mighty sigh whenever the culture-war question of sexuality as innate or as a “lifestyle choice” comes up. It doesn’t matter, people. The civil rights struggles of the last century emphasized that a person should not be condemned for an attribute he or she has not chosen, ie, the color of their skin. But that is not the only model of civil rights, and we Americans are bound to fight oppression of those who chose their difference as a matter of conscience, as much as we fight the oppression of those who were born to their difference.

    We hold that people have a right to freely choose their religion and their religious expression (or to have none).

    I think the right to choose your family and to choose the form that family takes is equally sacred and inalienable. That’s why I’m pro-marriage equality and why I’m pro-choice.

  • Becca Stareyes

    The only way I can parse that as making sense is reading that quote as saying ‘pro-choicers are hypocrites because they don’t support policies that support pregnant women/new mothers, because pregnancy is ‘just a choice women make’, but do support options to prevent or terminate pregnancy easily’. Which is incorrect and shows a basic ignorance of a lot of feminist movements*, but at least logically consistent. 

    * Many of whom argue both for abortion and contraceptive services AND for policies that support pregnancy and parenthood. Because pregnancy tends to affect women regardless of how it ends, as does things like childcare. 

  • Edo

    The argument seems to be that by offering birth control, “we’ve” given women control over their reproduction. Ergo, onus is on them to not have kids if they can’t afford them, since they can control that, always, and providing support is a perverse incentive or something.

    It’s a (perversely logical) libertarian argument; hell, I’m pretty sure that I’ve actually seen libertarians argue it before, although I don’t know where. But it’s not a tenable Catholic position to hold at all, and I have no idea what the hell logic is going on that makes the author set up that position to explore in the first place.

    (To be honest, the college Marxist troll in me would actually be curious about the last questions, in a college-Marxist way. But that would be a sociology research project, not blog-comments “discussion.”)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s a badly worded argument. Coming from a conservative Catholic, my educated guess is that it’s not a libertarian argument–that pregnancy should be viewed as entirely a matter of personal choice and responsibility; rather, she believes that having children is a social good and therefore society has an obligation to support people who have children.

    The writer is arguing against the idea that society owes parents no assistance in raising children. Her concern is that very strong advocacy of contraception (and abortion) helps to push that libertarian idea.

    Social goods and social responsibilities are very important in Catholic thinking; there is no “your choice, you deal with the consequences by yourself” (except by those who confuse Catholic morality with right wing politics–they’re bedfellows in many places, but they’re not even remotely the same thing).

    I think she went off the rails of logic in thinking that widespread use of contraception necessarily individualises child-raising.  But she’s not saying, as some have assumed, that society has no obligation to support pregnant women. Just the opposite.

  • Daughter

     I think she gets it wrong when she assumes that those who support contraception and those who don’t believe in supporting pregnant women are one and the same people.

  • Rae

    This logic baffles me – they’re saying that a woman being pregnant is a “private choice,” yet as Catholics believe that birth control is wrong, and that sex is an important part of marriage, meaning that married women who are living as Catholics with they would live will almost inevitably get pregnant not due to a “choice” to have a child but their choice to get married.

  • Nathaniel

    Bu-bu-but, Fred, the sluts! What about the sluts? I mean, if we enact such laws, it wouldn’t just be protecting the pregnancies of good Christian women obediently  under the headship of their Lord Husbands. It would also protect the pregnancies of godless lesbian sluts who get drunk and pregnant at strip clubs! Protecting sin isn’t the Christian thing to do. I would hope you could see that.  

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Heaven forbid that any of the male pro-lifers I’ve ever seen actually push for policies that would make them look less like woman-controlling douchebags.

  • Lliira

    Next, we test the flying abilities of the snapping turtle.

    You can’t test what’s not there. It would be nice if we could stop pretending the anti-choice movement is anything but what it is: an attempt to control women by controlling our bodies.

  • Tricksterson

    Hey!  Leave the turtles alone!

  • Brightie

    You really think that there is nobody who identifies as pro-life who really believes that their cause is about protecting developing human lives?

    This is an honest question. From what I’ve seen, I would be very surprised if that were true.

  • Marc Mielke

    If they seriously believe their cause is about protecting developing human lives, they should support both easy access to birth control and comprehensive sex education in schools. Both of these have been proven to reduce abortion rates far more effectively than waving a sign and traumatizing pregnant women. 

    I have never seen anyone who self identifies as pro-life do this.

  • WalterC

     There might be people like this, but they don’t write legislation or have any noticeable influence on the political leaders of the pro-life movement. For the purposes of public policy decisions, if they have no impact on policy then they might as well not exist, right?

  • Lori


    You really think that there is nobody who identifies as pro-life who
    really believes that their cause is about protecting developing human

    I think there are people who identify as pro-life who really believe that their cause is about protecting developing human lives. I think most of them are wrong and that’s not actually what their cause is about. I think that’s the point of these kinds of posts.

  • brightie

    Then maybe they should change the cause.

  • Carstonio

    To follow on Marc’s answer, making abortion illegal prevents almost no abortions. Assuming such pro-lifers exist, what are they trying to accomplish? I’ve heard at least one say that criminalizing abortion is about “standing up for unborn,” whatever that means. At best, that attitude views being on the “right” side of the issue as more important than the consequences of one’s stance. Because they treat abortion as a matter of women making “wrong” choices, this strongly argues against the idea that their goal is reducing abortions.

    Mandatory ultrasound laws are wrong because they are provided in a way that drives up costs, because they make it harder to provide abortion care, and most importantly, because they do not improve health outcomes. They eliminate patient autonomy in how health care information is delivered and received. This is a truly egregious harm about which everyone, no matter their position on legal abortion, should be concerned. 

  • Beroli


    You really think that there is nobody who identifies as pro-life who
    really believes that their cause is about protecting developing human

    What level of “belief” are we talking here?

    I imagine most people who identify as pro-life and believe abortion should be criminalized believe on the most superficial level of their brains that they care about “protecting developing human lives.” But if you ask such a person, “Why don’t you [do any of a number of things more effective at reducing the number of abortions which that person doesn’t currently do]?” it will generally take seconds to get to them implicitly or explicitly admitting that reducing the number of abortions is less important to them than taking a properly condemnatory moral stance toward abortions.

  • brightie

    Have you tried this often, personally? Do you have some statistics you can point me to on “how pro-life people react to being confronted with the facts of what reduces abortions”?
    I’m not trying to be argumentative, here. I want to know.

  • banancat

     I believe that such people might theoretically exist, but they are as rare as that hypothetical woman is 8 months into a healthy pregnancy and decides to get an abortion for shits and giggles.

  • brightie

    I believe that such people exist on the basis of having met several people who appear to me to be this way. I would be shocked and saddened to be definitively proven wrong.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Why is it so damn hard for “pro-family” types who trumpet the virtues of their idealized mommy-and-daddy-with-the-white-picket-fence vision of the family, to actually work to put that into practice?

    If anything, one step to constructing a 1950s economy for a 2010s society would be to create a veritable army of neighborhood day-care centers staffed and operated by local people who could care for children from the ages of 2 to 10 (I go for post-kindergarten because some parents need to have their children looked after beyond K-12 school hours; by about the age of 10 or 11 a child should be trustable with their own house key as long as they don’t live too far from school), which would mean a virtually guaranteed job for life for people who have the kind of interpersonal skills to relate to kids.

  • WayofCats

    I think I made the classic mistake early on: I equated the so-called pro-family values crowd with sincere motivations to support a happy home life… even though I thought their ideas were out of date, idealized, and impractical.

    But now I think that was just a cover story; it’s really about enforcing certain lifestyle choices and anyone who doesn’t fit that box suffers.

  • reynard61

    “This legislation matters first of all because it would protect the rights of pregnant workers. But it also matters because it tests the integrity of the pro-life movement. So far, that movement is failing that test.”

    You were expecting any different? Why? The pro-baby-as-punishment-for-non-procreative-sex crowd has shown time and time again that they’re *not interested in the life, welfare or well-being of the result of sex!!!*. Their *only* interest is in having the fun of experiencing the schadenfreude that comes from knowing that, somewhere out there, there is a woman who is poor and/or suffering because she had sex under “illicit” circumstances (for the baby-as-punishment-for-non-procreative-sex value of “illicit”, of course) that they can look down on and/or point to as an example of “immorality”. (Again, for the baby-as-punishment-for-non-procreative-sex value of “immorality”, of course.)

  • GuestPoster

    I am of two minds about such legislation.  On the one hand, I agree: nobody should lose their job because they become pregnant.  On the other hand…  there’s fundamentally no way to be equal about it.  And unlike corporate sponsored healthcare, where the company must merely increase compensation for any and all workers, pregnancy legislation actually puts employers in a very rough spot.

    Consider: Job A is easy, physically.  Thus, it can go to any man or woman, and that’s that.

    Job B, however, is physically demanding.  There is no way to make ‘small adjustments’ to make it safe for a pregnant woman.  So she just can’t do it.  And since women have a habit, on average, of getting pregnant, you don’t want to hire a woman to do it, right?  But you’re not allowed to discriminate.

    And then, regardless of the job, the woman is going to take some weeks off.  She just is.  Which means she is, essentially, getting more vacation time than any other employee.  Or do you make her use her sick time and vacation time?  Can she use future sick time, since most people don’t get a full month sick leave, but a pregnancy probably requires at least that much time?

    It’s a rough spot.  As I say: I don’t want to see women discriminated against, because of pregnancy or any other reason.  But then – it’s a uniquely difficult spot for employers of all sorts, uniquely costly, and actually makes it more expensive for them to employ women than men (assuming equal paychecks).  I tend to think about legislation, and law, from a position of harm, and real harm is done to either side of this issue depending upon if the law is past or not.  But either way, someone is harmed.  I tend to side with the less powerful side instinctively, but it’s not a good side to arbitrarily harm them any more than anyone else.

  • Ursula L

    It’s not that difficult a case.

    If someone is able to do the job, at the time they are hired, you hire them for the job.  Anyone can become disabled, temporarily or permanently, at any point in time.  Pregnancy is one such disability.  If someone is temporarily disabled, by pregnancy or any other temporary condition, then you have to make reasonable accommodation, and return them to their normal work when they are recovered.  If someone is permanently disabled, you have to make reasonable accommodation.    

  • P J Evans

    Adding to this, that anyone who thinks giving birth and dealing with a baby is anything like a vacation has never done either.

  • K. Mac

    Not to mention the fact that most employers offer paid vacation, while maternity leave is largely unpaid time off, so it’s really no different than another employee coming down with, say, mono and having to take a leave of absence.

  • GuestPoster

    But why do you ‘have to’?  If they are unable to do the job, then why do you continue to employ them?  Those boxes don’t stack themselves, after all, and if your box stacker is no longer able to stack boxes, what is the point in having that particular person on staff as a box stacker?  At best, you’re forced to increase the workload of other employees.  At worst, you’re forced to hire a new employee.  You argue that you make ‘reasonable accommodation’, but what is the reasonable accommodation for someone physically unable to do the job for which they were hired?  Let them sit around and watch others work?

    In general, proper insurance covers any other disability, with programs like Worker’s Compensation kicking in if the disability forces you out of work.  But pregnancy is different.  It actively harms an employer to have someone unable to do the job for which they were hired, but still be forced to pay them for it.  Sure, some jobs there are ways to make work for a disabled person, whatever the disability.  Others there is not.  If you hire a typist, who loses both hands to a crocodile, and has her tongue eaten by a parakeet, well…  how do they keep making documents for you?  Where’s the line between ‘need to change the job’ and ‘need to replace the employee’?

    It’s really, really not that simple.  Not if you take the views of both parties into account.  Active harm is done no matter how it goes.

    And to PJ Evans later, I use the word ‘vacation’ as ‘vacation from work duties’ as in ‘vacate the premises’, not ‘go to Maui’.  It doesn’t matter WHAT you’re doing to the employer, if you’re not doing your job.  It’s all a vacation at the front office.

  • EllieMurasaki

    By your argument, no company should provide paid sick leave or paid annual leave or indeed paid break time, or paid any other time I’ve forgotten where the employee is not actively working during that quarter hour they’re being paid for.

    I hope you do not require an explanation of why it is a profoundly bad idea to not provide paid sick leave, paid annual leave, and paid break time.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Probably some iteration of how they are somehow magically different from pregnancy leave because well shut up they just are.

    Calling it now.

  • GuestPoster

    Not quite – your logic might lead there, but mine certainly doesn’t.  With paid vacation or sick time, there’s no difference between employees.  A man gets a week, a woman gets a week.  A black gets a week, a white gets a week.  It’s all identical, and many, many places let you ‘buy back’ unused vacation or sick time, so it’s not even like the business loses money specifically on those who use the time.  There is no added cost based on type of employee.  Like paid pregnancy leave, they are in the best interests of the employer to provide (whether he or she believes it or not).  However, UNLIKE paid pregnancy leave, they apply equally – there’s no incentive to hire particular kinds of workers, and no harm from hiring particular other kinds of workers.

    Now consider pregnancy.  It only ever comes up for female employees.  Paternity leave happens, sure – but it’s taken infrequently.  And if you hire only sterile employees, you never have to pay the costs associated with having an employee out of maternity or paternity leave.  Or simply hire employees who’re older, or don’t want any more children, or whatever other factor you care to consider that leads to reduced costs on pregnancy leave time.

    It’s an unequal cost.  It’s unlike any other form of anti-discrimination I can think of just now, because a pregnant person CAN’T do the same work as somebody else – not safely anyways.  It’s not like you’re discriminating against somebody who’s equally capable, merely because of genetalia or skin color or psychology or whatever.

    It actually harms the company to hire women who spend a lot of time pregnant.  This is a harm not inflicted by any other type of employee, and it happens only because legislation says, and continues to say in bigger and harsher words, that a woman can get pregnant as often as she wants, and the employer just has to suck it up and deal with the costs.  But unlike anything else, those who choose NOT to get pregnant don’t get reimbursed.  It’s unequal.  And harmful to everyone who is not the pregnant woman.

    And, in this age of legal abortion, readily available birth control, and other mechanisms to control ones biology, should employers really have to absorb the costs associated with their employees personal choices?  We don’t like it when, say, a business tells employees how to vote, or what pharmaceuticals they may or may not have.  Why should employees get to force employers to hire extra people just because the employees want to spend more time making babies?

    You are continuing to ignore the complexities of the issue.  Knee-jerk reactions are knee-jerk reactions, no matter what quarter they come from. 

  • AnonaMiss

     Wow. I thought you were just poorly explaining reality as it is rather than as it should be, but you honestly think this is how it should be.

    I take it back. You really are arguing in bad faith. And as a woman who experiences this kind of discrimination bullshit because of my sex, when I have a downright phobia of childbirth, may I just say: fuck you too, numbnuts.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I am employed by the state. I saw no difference in the ‘please donate leave to this individual’ emails for a coworker of mine whose medical condition necessitating her taking more leave than she had available was pregnancy and for a coworker of mine whose such medical condition wasn’t pregnancy. Whenever such emails go out, we are told only that this individual working in this part of the state government has a medical condition that means they need time off exceeding all their sick and half their annual leave.
    Paid leave is paid leave is paid leave. The only difference I see between types of leave at my place of employment is that floating holidays don’t roll over from one year to the next, annual leave does to a point (I forget what the point is exactly but it takes about three years of accumulating annual leave without using any to get there), and sick leave always rolls over.

    Yes, your argument leads to neither of my coworkers should have been able to take that time off and get paid while they were recuperating. And yes, that is a bullshit place to be. How about you stop trying to go there, and more, stop denying you’re trying to go there?

  • fraser

     Actually it’s not that far off from ADA rules: Employers must make reasonable adjustments if it will help a disabled employee do a job, and can’t discriminate against them in hiring. And there’s no comparable benefit for the able, so it’s unequal too.
    And this has nothing to do with the current legislation, really. “She’s going to quit and get pregnant” was a standard argument against hiring women 60 years ago too.

  • smrnda

     People in low wage jobs are often ineligible for benefits such as disability or paid leave or even the FMLA act because they are not full time employees. This does not mean that their employment is somehow recreational – you might want to look into how many people are working multiple part time jobs rather than one full time one.

    You must not know many people who have been disabled or pregnant, since employers are often unwilling to make even trivially easy accommodations. I knew a cashier who had knee problems and wanted to sit on a stool instead of standing during her shifts. Of course the management says no, even though this accommodation would have cost them nothing.

  • GuestPoster

    And, as I have said a few times now, I understand this.  There are problems.  The problems need solutions.  But in many cases, the solutions hurt people – just a different set of people which people are more willing to hurt.  There are many examples of terrible employers!  There are many examples of people who fall though the cracks!

    …but there are many examples of GOOD employers, who are deeply hurt by legislation like this.  Ignoring that is a bad idea.  And to insinuate that someone considering both sides of the issue is clearly unfamiliar with one side, or the actors most affected on that side, is just silly.

  • smrnda

     Please come back with documented, concrete examples of these good employers forced to bend over backwards at great harm to themselves. The trope of the ‘oppressed employer’ who is just being done to death by regulations is standard BS. Please, EXAMPLES of this actually happening.

  • Daughter

     Did you read some of the stories at the link? They were women denied simple accommodations, such as a cashier not being allowed to drink water at her checkout station to stay hydrated, or being forbidden to take extra bathroom breaks even though such breaks didn’t interfere with their ability to get the job done. These were NOT situations in which the women could no longer do the job at all.

  • banancat

     Exactly.  Recently, a coworker of mine injured her back.  She had to take a week off, but then our boss made arrangements so she could do some work from home.  Now she’s back but there are still accommodations, some as simple as the company providing her with a special back support pillow for her chair, and some more difficult like arranging important meetings around her schedule so she can make it to all her doctor appointments.  When it happens like this, nearly everyone can see how reasonable this is.

    But when it’s pregnancy, suddenly it’s just too complicated for us to figure out and will hurt corporations if we allow these accommodations to happen.

  • P J Evans

     Where I worked, the woman who had back problems and could stand more easily than sit – so they got her a cubicle where she could stand to work, and sit when she needed.

  • Persia

    Also, and I can’t quite believe I have to say this, every human being has a vested interest in the continuation of the human race.

  • AnonymousSam

    ? Where does that come from?

    While I won’t debate its veracity, the thing you have to keep in mind about such a statement is that any vested interest in the continuation of the human race is still going to be under the terms and biases of whoever has that interest. Even if we didn’t have movements like the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, there are plenty of people who’d be happy for the human race to survive — minus all the poor people and those dirty foreigners.

  • Carstonio

     What relevance does that have? In my experience, the continuation argument is most often used to shame single women and gay couples for valuing their own allegedly selfish desires above the future of the species. With the human race topping 7 billion, the idea that underpopulation is a serious threat is worse than laughable. We’re probably more in danger from nuking, polluting, or antibioticking ourselves into extinction.

  • Persia

    Okay? Pregnancy – which at its core is the continuation of our species – is still an event worth medical leave, not a random special privilege that ladies want to have so they can take ‘vacations.’ (A woman acting as a surrogate should get medical leave too, as should a single parent, and really this argument is just odd.)

  • Carstonio

    Your post originally didn’t have the In Reply To” at the bottom, so I assumedyou were answering Buck and not Ursula. No disagreement with your overall point about medical leave. My issue is that ” every human being has a vested interest in the continuation of the human race” sounds very much like “every human being has an obligation to continue the human race.”

  • Persia

    Oooh, I see, that makes more sense now – I would’ve been confused too. No, not at all! Part of the reason we give people leave (IMO) is so people who WANT to can have kids so the rest of us don’t have to….

  • guest

    There already are disability benefits for expectant mothers.

  • Emjb

    First off, society needs someone to have babies if it is going to continue. Continuing the species is a non-frivolous need. Therefore, businesses, which cannot survive without people or a society, have an obligation to assume some of the burden if enabling reproduction to occur. In the past we made women a servant class as a way of avoiding that cost by dumping it onto them. Businesses and the society as a whole are not going to be allowed to do so anymore, because it is unjust and, I would assert, more costly in that it blocks out one half of humanity from adding their creativity to society. Businesses benefit in the long-run by making accommodations for women who reproduce, and society does as well.

  • GuestPoster

    Reasonable answer, that.  Though I think you’d be better off having some sort of tax funded pregnancy program, if you’re going to follow the line of thought where ‘society’ benefits from continuing the species.  You’re also left with the overpopulation argument – we already have too many people for the world to support comfortably, and too many people for the available jobs.  Right now the excess population is hurting business – why should it have to help pay to make more people?

    Again – not saying the old way of doing things is better.  Just trying to bring light to this question as NOT so clear as people often make it out to be, from a simple ‘harm’ perspective.

  • Thomas Stone

    Maternity leave is both a separate issue, already legally enforced, and easy enough to make equal between the genders (by offering equal quantities of paternity leave, which is absolutely beneficial to everybody.) 

    Also, forcing employees to act against their hypothetical ‘best interests’ (which always seem to favor hiring middle or upper class straight white men as much as possible) is the whole point of anti-discrimination legislation. I’m not going to get concern trolled into not supporting legislation to equalize conditions for the workforce on the grounds that then employers are going to want to act like assholes.

  • smrnda

     I’ve seen enough cases of employers refusing to make even minimal, practically costless accommodations that I can’t believe cost or difficulty is even an issue. A friend of mine was fired for throwing up on the job during an approved bathroom break. Employers and often just nasty little tin-hat dictators who enjoy power and control, particularly over women.

  • GuestPoster

    Ok, so consider a biology lab.  In many labs, you regularly handle terratogens (chemicals which have negative impacts upon foetuses).  There is no way to do the job without handling those chemicals – and as we all know, safety equipment only works MOST of the time.  Or consider the box stacking example, where the boxes simply weigh too much to be handled safely by someone 6 months pregnant.  Or consider other examples of jobs that simply are not safe to do for a pregnant person.

    These jobs exist.  The people who run these jobs are required, by law, to hire women who apply if they are the best candidate for the job.  Once pregnant, the women are no longer able to do the job, at all.  Yet the employer is not allowed to get rid of the employee who is not able to do their job, but is instead required to make ‘adjustments’ to make the job doable, quickly getting down to ‘just sit there and smile”.  How is this fair?

    There are issues of pettiness.  They should be addressed.  But so should issues of not pettiness.  It is exactly the same to consider all instances to be the one as to consider them all to be the other.  And it makes exactly as poor an argument to do either.

  • P J Evans

     Not. Getting. It.

  • smrnda

    First, for full time jobs, you can get short term disability for pregnancy – the ‘falling through the cracks’ is typically shitty, low wage work where the benefits don’t apply. An entire class of women are left with zero protection if they become pregnant, and you’re O SO F-KING worried about the poor poor piddle employers. Seriously, I think employers should just eat the cost on that one. They owe society something aside from just treating workers like disposable commodities to rake in money.

  • Hilary

    I work in a biotech manufactoring job, white lab coat, saftey glasses, blue nitrile gloves, OSHA sets my work wordrobe standards.  I’ve had pregant coworkers – and it’s easy enough for them to not handle the truly toxic stuff, by swapping duties with a non-pregnant coworker.

    This isn’t the social equivalent of rocket science.  A company that had realistic support for a pregnant woman would have an enthusiasic employee with a motivation to come back and help a company that helped her succeed so she wouldn’t get laid off and have to find a new job and run the risk of a crappy sexist employer.

    What would you do if you had to chose between having an abortion to keep your job, or loose your job and be responsible for a newborn, especially if you had no other means of supporting yourself, or you partner alone couldn’t make ends meet? 

  • fraser

    I wonder if Guest Poster has any reservations about conscience clauses, which obviously enable a pharmacist or nurse to shirk their duties and push them off on someone else?

  • The_L1985

     And why wouldn’t the fathers of new babies want time off?  If nothing else, the new father is generally the one who drives that new mother to the hospital in the first place, and childbirth can take several days.

    And if you don’t think that a newborn’s crying is just as likely to wake up Dad as Mom, then you have no idea how noise works at all.

  • Anon_Ymous

     I know I’m late to the party and others have answered you, but I actually agree with you about the unfairness of maternity leave, and the incentives it brings to discriminate against women in the hiring process.

    Where I differ from you is in my proposed solution to the problem. I say: mandatory 12 week paternity leave! The co-parent (whether male or female) must also take off the same amount of time as the bearing parent (or both parents in the case of adoption), though they can choose whether they want to take it at the same time to support the other parent, or at a different time to be the one at home as caregiver while their spouse re-enters the workforce.

    This gets rid of the incentives to discriminate against women in the workforce, as men are exactly as likely to become parents (basic maths, here), and either gender is required to take the same amount of time off. Making it mandatory gets rid of the pressure certain employers might place upon a man to just waive his rights, and it also will encourage men to connect more with their children (something quite a few men I know would greatly appreciate).

  • Baby_Raptor

    Tangentally on topic, I found myself in need of Plan B this week. Being in Arkansas, I was expecting some drama. 

    Thankfully, the most I got was some attitude from the consultation pharmacist. She made it clear she disapproved, but she didn’t raise hell. Was very relieved. 

    So that’s a bit of good news. Also, would appreciate everyone crossing their fingers, sending good vibes, prayers, insert chosen method of Goodness here. 

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Best of luck! *sends good wishes*

  • arcseconds

    good luck, baby_raptor

  • John Mark Ockerbloom

    I found an endorsement of PWFA at the site for All Our Lives:

    A look around the site will show that they’re pro-life, but rather different in a number of ways from anti-abortion groups people might be more familiar with.

  • Daughter

    I watched a handful of episodes of “Undercover Boss,” which I know is a controversial show. In one episode, the CEO of Waste Masters rode along side a female garbage hauler. He is shocked as he watches her stop the truck, take out a coffee can , and pee in it beside the side of the road.  He asks her why she would do such a thing.

    She tells him that company policy dictates that they have to complete their garbage runs in a certain amount of time, and are docked and potentially fired if they exceed it. The time frame doesn’t allow them to stop to find a bathroom anywhere.

    The boss at the end changes that policy. The thing that struck me, however, was that he had never even considered the human factor in his policies. He only considered the bottom line. And now, suddenly faced with the real people and the impact of his decisions, he realized what an asshole he had been.

  • Ross

    When I was on my honeymoon, we were in a test audience for that show. We were very disappointed. The whole thing just felt so fake and so forced.

    Though my recollection — and it may have come off differently in the aired version, since what we saw wasn’t the final edit — is that the boss seemed to be very determined to convey that he had “never” imagined that policies would affect workers in such a negative way, and that all the terrible things they uncovered had been the work of people lower down the management chain — that he seemed to be claiming that the only real mistake he’d made was to put too much faith in the judgement of his subordinates without making sure that their policies adhered to his standards for not screwing the workers.

    Also, IIRC, he pulled some strings to get someone a kidney. Seriously the last few minutes of tht were like “I’m a magic genie now who solves all your problems”

  • Invisible Neutrino

    To be honest, someone being that out of touch is not hard to imagine. How else did a web forum like FuckedCompany manage to get so much traction during the dot-com era?

  • Ross

    I don’t have any issue believing he’d be so out of touch, but it rubbed me wrong that his “taking full responsibility” felt very strongly of “As the captain this is technically all my responsibility even though it totes wasn’t *really* my fault because I was totally misunderstood by my underlings.”

  • smrnda

    I think the show is just pro big business propaganda. I’m sure after a few weeks, the policies return to ‘business as usual.’ It also exaggerates the impact of employers’ sense of noblesse oblige, and obscures the fact that improvements for workers came from workers agitating, not because some would-be scrooge had a change of heart.

  • Daughter

    When I was pregnant, I had hyperemesis – which is extreme morning sickness for the whole pregnancy. I got pregnant the same year my husband had emergency open heart surgery, so I was taking care of a sick husband on top of being pregnant. That winter was horrible, and my husband couldn’t shovel snow, so if I wanted to make it to work, I had to get outside every morning and shovel. I would throw up in the snow, cover the vomit with some  more snow, and keep going.

    I worked my ass off during my pregnancy, but it wasn’t good enough for my supervisor, although he never said anything to me. Instead, he wrote me a negative evaluation and put me on probation during my maternity leave – when I wasn’t there to express my side of the story.

    In his negative review, he cited me for such things as not being warm and collegial with my colleagues. Well, no duh. It took all my energy to focus on my work, so I had very little left over for socialization. I greeted everyone in the morning, then sat at my desk and focused. I ate lunch at my desk rather than in the cafeteria, because all the different food smells in the cafeteria made me nauseous and if I wanted to get through the day without getting sick, I had to stay away. And I left immediately at 5 PM to go home to take care of my sick husband and then fall into bed to sleep for 10-11 hours each night.

    I filed a complaint about the negative review with our CEO, and he said he agreed that my supervisor shouldn’t have done it without my knowledge during my maternity leave, but not with the essential content of the review. He did allow me to write a rebuttal for my personnel file.

    I would later learn that I wasn’t the only woman at that company who had felt badly treated during pregnancy, even though the quality of our work wasn’t an issue. I  left that job not long after returning to work. When I left, my supervisor had just gotten engaged. My wish for him and his bride was that if they chose to have children, he would come to understand some of what pregnant women go through.

  • Daughter

     I share this story because I was working at a professional job, one with sick leave and good benefits, and the option to file a complaint if you didn’t like how you were treated. And still I was made to feel like trash because of my pregnancy.

    So imagine what pregnant women working in minimum wage jobs without those protections go through.

  • AnonaMiss

    Y’all are reading bad faith into GuestPoster.

    Regardless of what ought to be the case, requiring accommodations for pregnant women will in reality magnify the disincentive for hiring women, especially for manual labor jobs which would require the most accommodation.

    Unlike most other disabilities, whose distributions are mostly random and unforeseeable*,  the likelihood of pregnancy ‘striking’ an individual outside of the set of women between the ages of 16 and 45 is small. Since women are as far as I know not correspondingly less likely to be struck by any other disability, this makes women ‘high-risk’ employees for disability. A company trying to keep operations running smoothly will therefore tend to discriminate against hiring young women. This is not the only reason women are discriminated against in employment, but it is a reason.

    The question is, how can we equalize and/or
    remove this disincentive?

    * Except for age-related disabilities, but age discrimination in employment is also a Thing.

  • GuestPoster

    Hey, just want to drop a thank you for reading the posts honestly, rather than getting upset and defensive about them.  Because I agree with you – the world OUGHT to be a better place – but it’s not.  And policies like this one just make it worse and worse for businesses that hire women.  And if we forget that, and refuse to even empathize with employers, well…  it just grants a real, legitimate reason for discrimination.

  • P J Evans

     Employers don’t need our empathy: they have POWER. They can, and do, fire people sometimes for no reason at all.

    What about employers who give some people two week’s of sick leave a year, but other people don’t get any?

  • Ursula L

    Because I agree with you – the world OUGHT to be a better place – but it’s not.  And policies like this one just make it worse and worse for businesses that hire women.  And if we forget that, and refuse to even empathize with employers, well…  it just grants a real, legitimate reason for discrimination.

    The world ought to be a better place – and we use laws, like this one, to make it a better place.  

    We already have legislation that covers protecting partially and fully disabled workers, and women fully disabled by pregnancy.  This merely treats partial disability from pregnancy like any other partial disability.

    It doesn’t create a special burden on employers who hire women, any more than if they hire any employee who may become partially or fully disabled for any reason.  It doesn’t give a legitimate business reason not to hire women, because anyone can become disabled at any time, either by accident or disease or by a choice, such as if they are injured on a skiing trip. 

    Good employers won’t be hurt by legislation like this, because good employers already don’t discriminate against women, and already treat workers suffering from a temporary disability fairly.

    If anything, this helps good employers, because it forces their competitors who weren’t good employers to have the expenses that come with being an employer who treats employees justly, rather than letting them cut costs on the backs of their employees.  

  • Anon_Ymous

     Just posted this as a reply to GuestPoster, but my solution would be to make Paternity (or co-parent) leave, make it as long as maternity leave, and make it mandatory.

    Bonus points for getting men involved in raising their young – at least, for making it *expected* rather than *exceptional*.

  • smrnda

    This is mostly for GuestPoster, who seems to be thinking that employers should always have a right to do what is optimally best for them, and that their complaints about ‘accommodations’ are somehow justified.

    Listen, if it was up to many employers, workers would be living on site, working 12  or 14 hours days, would have no breaks and anybody who ate too much from the company canteen would be fired and replaced with someone who was more ‘efficient.’ Accommodations inconvenience employers, but we should assume the worst of what they want in their quest for ‘efficiency’ and ‘convenience.’

  • JustoneK

    GuestPoster, are you an employer?

  • AnonymousSam

    Paternity leave doesn’t happen as often because a lot of maternity/paternity leave in the United States is unpaid. If someone’s wife has just given birth and is on unpaid maternal leave, the last thing most people need is to completely cut off their income, so he’s probably going to continue working in an effort to make ends meet.

  • Jenny Islander

    Yup. My husband had to go back to work after a week off and a week on half days, leaving me with a baby and two children too little to be any help, because he had a written promise that he would still have his job if he stayed home with us for a much longer period . . . but no promise of a paycheck if he did. All of our savings accounts were earmarked for unavoidable future expenses; obviously there was no money for child care assistance either. I’m lucky that I had no birth injuries. Imagine taking care of a C-section scar and a baby and a toddler at the same time, all by yourself.

    Anybody who feels the urge to start womping on about how we should have magically foreseen my boss’s boss’s boss’s committee’s adjustments to the company parental leave plan before we planned out our family 9 years ago can shut up right now, because I have no patience for smuggery masquerading as wisdom.

  • Daughter

    Two issues are being conflated here: the first is maternity/paternity leave. The second is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The latter is pushing for a requirement that employers make reasonable accommodations to allow women to continue working during pregnancy. “Reasonable” is important here. Many of the cases cited were very minor, low or no cost accommodations (such as a stool to sit on, or additional bathroom breaks) that would allow a woman to work without risk or minimizing risk during her pregnancy. These are NOT cases of women sitting down and doing nothing but smiling and collecting a paycheck while the men and non-pregnant women shoulder all the workload. You’re straw-personning if you keep bringing that up.

    Maternity/paternity leave is something put into law as part of the American with Disabilities Act. And the ADA applies equally to all people. Yes, not everyone will have children, and many fewer men than women avail themselves of maternity/paternity leave. But the protections of the ADA, which include the ability to take leave to care for a sick family member as well as yourself in the event of a prolonged illness or disability, are important protections for all workers.

    What GuestPoster is suggesting (in a concern-trolling way) is that we turn back the clock decades and allow employers not to hire women at all or to fire them as soon as they get pregnant because of the “burden” of accommodating pregnancy. Does anyone really want to argue that our economy is less productive today with the full engagement of women in the workforce (pregnancy and all) than it was several decades ago when women had much less participation?

  • GuestPoster

    Actually, all I’m REALLY arguing (and what is getting mired in the negativity backlash) is that people need to REMEMBER that these policies actually hurt somebody.   They help somebody, yes.  But they are intrinsically unfair policies that inflict harm upon a class of people.  And just because that class of people tends to have more power, and be wealthier, doesn’t mean it’s automatically ok to inflict harm upon them.

    You are 100% right that not everything is a ‘reasonable’ accomodation, and that bringing up unreasonable ones is a bit of a strawman.  But then – you utterly neglect that most people here are pretending that every case can be fixed by reasonable accomodations, and that all employers are intrinsically evil people out to make a buck at any cost – which is just as much of a strawman.

    You are also 100% right that pregnancy was covered by the ADA – but it very specifically deals with disabilities that do not render a person unable to do a given job.  The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, on the other hand, very specifically deals with a class of people who are NOT able to do their job due to a disability, but expect to keep it anyways.  It implements fairness for pregnant workers via unfairness to everybody else involved.  It actively harms person B due to choices made by person A.  Our legal system usually seeks to remedy that, not to inflict it.

    The article posited that women have three awful choices in too many cases: lose your job, or terminate your pregnancy, or take awful health risks.  My argument is that employers, with every law that is passed in this field, are ALSO posed with some horrible choices: hire only men (and lose the value that women bring), or lose more and more money on women who become pregnant.  And workers who aren’t pregnant get some pretty awful choices too: either take up the slack for the now pregnant worker who can’t do the hard jobs (but still gets the same pay), or lose your job.  Because the work still needs to get done, doesn’t it, and most of those ‘reasonable accomodation’ samples are about women unable to do heavy lifting, and seeking essentially a different job, or at least to not do part of their current job – slack that somebody else must inevitably take up.

    The proposed law is better than what came before.  But that doesn’t make it good.  A good law would help EVERYBODY, not just one class of people.  Or at the very least, it would penalize everybody equally, rather than shifting the burden in only one direction, as this act does.

    Interestingly, most of the examples in the links are essentially the box lifting example I constantly allude to.  Now in the third, Shelly, I happen to think the company that fired the woman was in the wrong, but I don’t know the details, do I?  And a court happens to think the company did right.  Maybe the job simply couldn’t be done without that lifting – I don’t know.  

    Put it another way.  If Bob breaks his leg while doing his job, the boss is clearly responsible, and should do everything possible t0 help Bob.  Adjust work duties, pay out corporate insurance, whatever.   But if Bob breaks the same leg while skiing, well…  it would be NICE if his employer did the same stuff.  But there’s no responsibility, is there?  The employer didn’t cause the break, so why should the employer suffer the costs?  

    Why should John have to lift more heavy boxes than his fair share, because Mary became pregnant?  While should Sally have to pay for 2 people to do the work of one, because Jessica wanted a child?  Why do so many people ignore the problems of Sally and John, just because Mary and Jessica are about to become mothers?

  • JustoneK

    Oh you did not just compare pregnancy to a vacation injury.

  • GuestPoster

    Sure did.  It’s a disability (per the ADA) aquired off-the-job (one hopes) that affects one’s ability to perform on-the-job.  That’s a real similarity.  

    As for those wanting an example, since heavy lifting is THE most common example there is in the links: John is 65 years old, running a mom-and-pop grocery store, minus the mom.  He hires Tina, a 17 year old highschool student, to stock the shelves and handle deliveries, which he can’t do himself.  Some of those items are more than 20 lbs.  Tina gets pregnant.  She is no longer able to do the job for which she was hired.  John can’t do it either – that’s why he hired Tina.  The reasonable accommodation, according to the examples being cited in the links, is to give Tina light-lifting duties for a few weeks (or months), and let somebody else do the heavy lifting.

    There is nobody else.  John can afford only one employee.  John can’t do without the heavy items being delivered.  John can’t afford a lawyer to prove this in court.  Tina can’t afford to lose the job.  So – what does John do?  What does Tina do?   Everybody here seems so very certain that every employer ever can comply with everything that gets thrown at them: what does John do?

    Not all employers are decent people.  But not all employers are evil, either.  Not all accommodations are unreasonable – but some are, even if they don’t look that way.  Folks on here seem to be totally ignoring that, some going so far as to say outright that they don’t care at all about a class of people directly harmed by such legislation.  Even a small cost is a lot when you can’t afford it.  Even a small unfairness feels like a lot when it keeps getting passed on to you.

    Per the article’s actual question: those who support the right to life really ought to support a pregnant worker’s fairness act.  But then: those who support a pregnant worker’s fairness act really ought to work to get something fair, rather than the vague, damaging legislation currently proposed.  Or at the very least, they ought to be able to admit to themselves that other anti-discrimination legislation is about not discriminating between people equally able to do a job, while this one is about not being allowed to dismiss somebody no longer able to do their job safely, and being required to create a new job instead.  Because even in the examples provided, ‘no longer safe to perform regular duties’ outnumbers ‘not allowed to drink water while on the job’.

  • Daughter

     I would have to look at the text of the law to know for sure, but most laws that impose these types of requirements on employers, from the ADA to Obamacare, have exemptions for employers with fewer than a certain number of employees (often 50 employees). So it’s likely that 65 year old John wouldn’t be impacted by this Act.

  • AnonymousSam

    The ADA only counts employers with at least 15 workers for each day of operation in 20 or more calendar weeks of the year, so yeah.

  • Beroli

    Most people here are unsympathetic to your “John and Tina” example because you’re acting as though the default situation involves a barely-making-ends-meet employer who will get forced out of business if he (and yes, he) cannot in some way discriminate against his pregnant employee, not a wealthy employer with many employees who is trying to figure out how to maximize his profit and keeps getting “the less you can give all your employees, the better off you’ll be, and people like GuestPoster champion your right to cut pregnant employees off.”

    In other words, you’re acting like the exception is the rule, siding with the powerful against the powerless, and concern trolling. Yes, a law that states that you cannot assume every dark-skinned male you see is about to kill you might, at some point, result in the death of someone who would have survived in the absence of such a rule. That doesn’t make it ambiguous that such a law is an unalloyed good.

  • Ross

    So…. Instead, he should fire the pregnant teenager and train a replacement?

  • The_L1985

     It is very clear to me that either:

    1. You are male;

    2. You are completely unaware of just how much of the economy has been bought out by a small handful of extremely wealthy corporations, who have, in turn, made it prohibitively difficult to run your own small business; or

    3. Both of the above.

    Otherwise you wouldn’t make such horrible arguments.

  • Daughter

     Any time someone becomes disabled or is out of work due to illness, other workers have to step up and help out.

    Guess what? Maybe some of those workers appreciate the fact that Jessica can get accommodations like that. Because Sally knows she might need them when/if she becomes pregnant, and John knows he wants his wife’s employer to accommodate her when/if she gets pregnant. Or maybe Sally and John are both past childbearing age, but Sally’s daughter isn’t, and she’s thinking about her. And John is thinking about how he needs some time off to care for his mom who just broke her hip because she can’t afford full-time nursing care, and remembering how his co-workers stepped in to lift the heavy boxes so he could come back to work on desk duty for a while after having surgery on his hand.

    One of the biggest problems in our society right now is the short-sightedness of only think about what immediately affects you. These policies benefit all of us because even if you have to lift a few more boxes today, six months or a year from now, it could be you needing someone to lift the boxes for you.

  • Carstonio

    These policies benefit all of us because even if you have to lift a few more boxes today, six months or a year from now, it could be you needing someone to lift the boxes for you.

    Exactly. The argument GuestPoster is making resembles one for not having women in the workforce at all. While I don’t know if that’s the poster’s intention, the complaint that employers aren’t “allowed to dismiss somebody no longer able to do their job safely” sounds supicious.

  • Ruby_Tea

    GuestPoster sounds like he would be quite comfortable and happy in the world of Gattaca.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Only if GuestPoster could be Jerome Morrow with working legs.

  • Daughter

     The other salient point about many of the compiled examples is that the employers’ provided light-lifting accommodations for employees that needed them for other reasons, such as injury or illness, but not for pregnant women. You’re been arguing that this Act will result in other workers losing out for the benefit of pregnant women, but it sounds like what’s happening now is more often the reverse.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act…very specifically deals with a class of people who are NOT able to do their job due to a disability, but expect to keep it anyways.

    You keep saying this but it’s not what the PWFA would actually do. “Reasonable accommodations” is not a euphemism for a free ride. No one’s suggesting every case can be solved this way, but why does that mean we shouldn’t address those cases than can be solved this way?

    just because that class of people tends to have more power, and be wealthier, doesn’t mean it’s automatically ok to inflict harm upon them.

    What does “automatically” have to do with it? This is a situation where one of two groups is going to bear a cost. That is unavoidable. Doing nothing, complaining about a potential solution, doesn’t change the fact that there will be cost to someone. Why wouldn’t we expect the group that “tends to have more power, and be wealthier” to bear the larger part of that cost? Especially when the potential costs addressed by the narrow scope of this bill- accommodations on the one hard vs unemployment on the other- are hardly symmetrical.

  • Daughter

     Especially when the potential costs addressed by the narrow scope of
    this bill- accommodations on the one hard vs unemployment on the other-
    are hardly symmetrical.

    accommodations vs. unemployment, miscarriage, injury or disability, to be more precise.

  • Ross


    The latter is pushing for a requirement that employers make reasonable
    accommodations to allow women to continue working during pregnancy.
    “Reasonable” is important here. Many of the cases cited were very minor,
    low or no cost accommodations (such as a stool to sit on, or additional
    bathroom breaks) that would allow a woman to work without risk or
    minimizing risk during her pregnancy

    Which, one should not forget, will result in getting more work out of the pregnant employee, by reducing the amount of time the employee needs to take off, reducing the chances of medical complications (leading to greater time off or for that matter, workplace injury claims), and reducing the need to a replacement.

    Which means that making the accommodations would actually save money to any employer who isn’t treating their employees as disposable (I mean sure, if you treat your employees as disposable, any accomodations are going to be more expensive than just tossing the employee in the dumpster and getting a new one. But I feel no especial compunction about driving up costs to the sorts of employers who treat their employees as disposable.)

  • AnonymousSam

    Of course, the whole thing flips on its head if we look at it from the perspective that employers are doing workers a favor by employing them, and point out how rude it is for workers to expect the person doing them a favor to further bend over backwards to please them. Because as we all know, workers are selfish creatures who have no interest in quality, productivity, or even the product they are helping promote. They just want a paycheck with as little effort on their parts as possible and poor, struggling employers are barely able to make ends meet as it is without having to sacrifice their children’s college funds to buy a folding chair for someone to sit on.

    ;________; Please, won’t somebody think of the billionaires?!

  • smrnda

     I wanted to make a comment about disability. It’s another protected category, and disability goes far beyond the obvious examples of ‘person in a wheelchair’ that people think up.

    Many disabilities are kind of unpredictable in terms of what impact they will have on a person’s ability to work. Now, according to the logic of GuestPoster, disability accommodation is this huge burden in these cases since the worker may be fine, but may not be, and therefore these laws force businesses to hire disabled workers who they have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to work or not and where they can’t predict what sort of leave/accommodations might come up. I’m thinking GuestPoster will probably say that well, employers should be permitted to discriminate here.

    My take is, screw the employers. Employers == oppressors. ANY accommodation of ANY type they’ll complain about, so I don’t care. I have no sympathy for the powerful. Let them eat some costs that go with maintaining the welfare of their workers, or let them pay taxes and have the government do it. GuestPoster seems to be taking the right of self-interest, even if it conflicts with the general welfare, to be some kind of ultimate right. I don’t want to live in a society run by those rules.

  • JustoneK

    And on this note:  ”  The employer didn’t cause the break, so why should the employer suffer the costs?  ”

    You’re saying you’d be okay with women that were impregnated by their employer getting proper medical leave/care/adjustments?  Wtf.

  • AnonymousSam

    All progress hurts someone.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Probably some iteration of how they are somehow magically different from pregnancy leave because well shut up they just are.

    Calling it now.

    So was I right or was I right?

  • AnonymousSam

    I actually know an employer who only has a single worker and who would be devastated by that worker having to take several months off for any reason. Said employer has a strong relationship with that worker and I have no doubt he could work out an accomodation for the situation if it came to that.

    Though the word “devastated” may have a different definition. That business would suffer. He has two other businesses on the side, and his income has been several tens of thousands of dollars a month, so it’s quite possible he’d be fine even if he just shut the doors for six months.

  • AnonaMiss

    Yeah, I actually have an aunt and uncle who co-own a tech startup which has been in a state of constant struggle for a decade now. They haven’t paid themselves salary since before the big bust in 2008, and have been living off their savings in order to keep the business running. Since it’s a tech company, pregnancy accommodation probably wouldn’t push them over the brink, but if they were in a different industry, I could see it.

    Seriously though, can we ignore GuestPoster’s “employers have a right to be assholes” attitude for a little and brainstorm about how to combat the actual problems ze’s brought up? Because the reality is, without incentive to do otherwise, employers will be assholes, whether they have a right to it or not.

    How we could we modify the law/regulations to help offset the disincentive to hire women that pregnancy-related costs entail? Equal maternity and paternity leave is a great one, though as has been noted, due to cultural expectations paternity leave doesn’t get used as much. I’d be inclined – and this is a spur of the moment idea, I haven’t thought it through – to phase maternity/paternity leave into half-time or quarter-time work instead of true leave in order to force men into taking some, though that might be too heavy-handed. (Would be funny to watch the traditional gender role + work the proles into the ground types jump all over it, and then realize after it had passed that shit, we just helped equalize men and women in both the workforce and the home!)

    The health accommodations for pregnancy, especially in inherently hazardous environments (e.g. building inspection, chemical labs, construction, loading bays), would be harder to equalize the disincentives for. I’d love to hear some of y’all’s ideas though!

    PS. On the off chance, GuestPoster, that you are actually sincere about wanting equality, talk about equality at least as much as about the obstacles to it.

  • P J Evans

     I’d want to know how big a problem it really is, first.

  • Daughter

     I think one incentive is that it probably costs less to provide accommodations to an experienced pregnant worker than it does to recruit, hire and train a new one. But that probably varies depending on the skill level of the job and the extent of the accommodations.

  • GuestPoster

    On the off chance you are done with the insulting tone, and back to the honest discussion tone, I shall answer your questions.  Though in future it’d be great if you didn’t put arguments such as ’employers have a right to be assholes’ in my mouth.  At least wait for me to say them first, before accusing me of them.

    Anyhow, contrary to popular belief, this is NOT an issue where one of exactly two parties has to bear the brunt of the cost.  One could imagine a tax pool (call it the support-of-foetuses tax) added onto payroll taxes (or income taxes, or property taxes, or something else distributed across all of society, rather than just the employer sector), the sole purpose of which was to reimburse employers for expenses encountered dealing with pregnant employees.  A bit of paperwork, but it spreads the costs out more, eliminating the direct penalty for hiring people likely to become pregnant at some point in time.  Maybe the stool isn’t allowed because of fire codes, which would require re-modeling the cash register station to make enough space for it.  Maybe the water isn’t allowed because the liquid can ruin the products if spilled.  All of that becomes insured, so it’s effectively no direct cost, and much more palatable.

    Alternately, some sort of worker exchange – the ability to trade workers who cannot be accommodated easily for ones who can, on a temporary basis.  I have no idea how it would work, but again, it spreads the damage around evenly, rather than concentrating it at exactly one point.

    Alternately, though less favorably towards pregnant women, it could be mandated that such women can make use of sick or vacation days up to, say, 5 years in advance to cover extended maternity leave, or if they were unable to do their jobs as they were set when hired.  Then, the employer has an incentive to retain the worker, not merely a lack of motivation to fire the worker.  After all, why not keep somebody who’s already used future time off?  Simultaneously, the employer must decide between training a new temporary employee, and making ‘reasonable accommodations’ to the current employee.  

    I’m certain there are much better ideas out there.  But you ask why I spend time talking about the barriers, rather than just shouting ‘equality’ all the time?  Two reasons: one, I continue to ignore one of my fundamental internet rules (stop talking once they’ve ignored your point, and put words in your mouth twice, since they clearly are arguing in bad faith) because there’s just enough sense to get a good conversation out.  And two: there are plenty of people saying they don’t care about the barriers, don’t care who is harmed, and just want to see it done.  What’s the point in saying what everybody else says, rather than reminding them of what they refuse to see?  Echo chambers are only useful to bats.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You’re still behaving as though the important thing here is the harm to employers (who, being employers, have the power in most interactions, especially interactions with employees), not the harm to employed pregnant women (who, being women, do not have the power in most interactions). Knock it the fuck off.

  • Madhabmatics

    hmmm yes please tell me more about how women should be able to work or have a relationship but not both because of the needs of capital, whose feelings will be hurt otherwise

  • Thomas Stone

    Be careful, that poster’s ears and eyes shut down whenever they see an ‘insulting tone’. Because obviously, when you’re arguing jackass things like a jackass at great length, everyone should be careful at all times to make sure they don’t slip up and call you a jackass.

  • AnonaMiss

    When the one person who has given you a chance in a thread takes an “insulting tone” with you after you post again, it would behoove you to do some self-examination.

  • Beroli

    But you ask why I spend time talking about the barriers, rather than just shouting ‘equality’ all the time?

    Mainly, I’d ask why you didn’t start out with “These are potential solutions” rather than, “The first step is that all of you admit that it’s unacceptable that employers have to deal unprofitably with pregnant employees.” If I believed for a minute the answer would be anything other than “because I wouldn’t have brought up the solutions at all if I hadn’t gotten thrashed so hard for pushing for sympathy for employers who lose profits due to pregnant employees.” Which I don’t.

  • Czanne

    Alternately, though less favorably towards pregnant women, it could be mandated that such women can make use of sick or vacation days up to, say, 5 years in advance to cover extended maternity leave, or if they were unable to do their jobs as they were set when hired. Then, the employer has an incentive to retain the worker, not merely a lack of motivation to fire the worker.

    The reason this is not currently done and not currently legal is because it’s indentured servitude. It is an employer making a claim on future labor and the employee contracting for an advance of compensation. It is the same concept as payment in scrip and the company store. And it’s utterly insulting to suggest that anyone be subjected to that, but it is more so when it is being applied only to one class of employee.

    Under this proposal, what happens a year later when a woman who accepted the 5 years’ advance of PTO gets a better job offer? Is she prevented from persuing it? Is her employer allowed to give her a poor reference or put a mark on her credit until her debt is paid off? Can her employer sue her for that advance if she does leave? What if she’s laid off or the company goes under due to a market shift or… ahem… aggressive accounting? Can the corporation’s bankruptcy settlement come after her since that debt would be considered an asset on the company’s books? Can she be denied unemployment compensation if she is laid off? Is the advance transferrable to her new employer? If the latter, then debt bondage has become saleable, which is slavery. What about interest? Is the employer allowed to charge 3% on that advance of compensation? How about 8%? How about 29%? How about 75%? What happens if the company cuts her hours or her pay due to that market shift? Suddenly, it will take ten or fifteen years to earn up to the advance. Like that won’t be exploited. We’ve done Dickens, thanks.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Under this proposal, what happens a year later when a woman who accepted the 5 years’ advance of PTO gets a better job offer?

    The company could then pay the equivalent wage, or negotiate some kind of buy-out.

  • Czanne

    Invisible Neutrino wrote: The company could then pay an equivalent wage, or negotiate a buy-out.

    The first employer can refuse a negotiation with either the employee or the third party, or place the cash-out value of the advanced PTO so high that no second company will consider buying it, or that the employee can’t manage to pay off in a lump sum. No party of a contract is required to negotiate with a third party who is not part of that contract. They have no requirement to meet a third party’s offer. This is handing indentured servitude to the employer.

    It’s saleable debt tied to labor. Debt bondage. Slavery.

    But just for the wimmins, so nobody should worry.


  • Invisible Neutrino

    Actually, my thinking was that if the PTO hasn’t been used by the employee yet, then the company and the departing employee would negotiate what the employee should be paid for those unused days.

    I got a payout like that when a company I worked for paid out some vacation days I didn’t take.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The question was about paid time off that the employee has used but not yet earned, I believe.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Eh. If it has been used but not earned, any reasonable person would, I suppose, just call it a day and say, “S’ok”.

    As I have discovered however some people appear to be alarmist in their assumptions as to how that would work.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The people you call ‘alarmist’, I call ‘possibly exaggerating but definitely have a point’. If I take paid leave I have not earned (and it is my own leave that I will have later earned, not a gift from another employee who has already earned it), I owe my employer either the money they paid me for those leave days or the labor that my employment obliges me to provide in order to earn those leave days. If that debt exists when I change jobs, fuckery is going to happen. The nature of the fuckery is up for debate, but the fact of its existence is not.

  • Amaryllis

    GuestPoster: “And, in this age of legal abortion, readily available birth control, and
    other mechanisms to control ones biology, should employers really have
    to absorb the costs associated with their employees personal choices?”
    GuestPoster: “and as we all know, safety equipment only works MOST of the time.  ”

    * raises eyebrows *

    Not that it’s any of an employer’s business whether a pregnancy was intended or accidental, of course. That just struck me as an odd conjunction of ideas.

  • AnonymousSam

    Pregnancy is now a reason to draw Worker’s Comp?

    That almost seems like it has potential for an employer. An insurance fund they can pay into when they hire a female employee, so even if she becomes pregnant and is unable to perform her job duties, the employer can draw insurance to cover (and then some) what they lose from that.

    I can’t tell if it sounds reasonable or horrible or just stupid. Or all three.

  • P J Evans

     Someone with severe morning sickness or prescribed bed rest is effectively disabled, because they can’t work in the usual way. (I had a boss who got hit with that. She couldn’t work for about half of the pregnancy.)

  • AnonymousSam

    Oh, I know. I was making a joke based on the lines quoted in that post, about safety equipment only being effective most of the time and this being an era of readily available birth control.

    Say we consider birth control to be a form of safety equipment. Employers (who don’t suck) now effectively provide birth control via the ACA. If an employee becomes pregnant without prior intent, then worker’s compensation would be a possible outcome. Either that or the employee could sue and claim it was due to a lapse in birth control coverage caused by some fault of the employer…

    In fact, even better, let’s blame it on the sucky employers instead. The ones who don’t want women to have any access to contraception on their watch, even through the alternative access proposal (that’s where an employer can opt out of providing contraception, but when that happens, their employees are granted coverage under a second plan at no extra cost — it’s a sign of true misogyny that this proposal got just as much hate and religious freedom violation claims as the original).

    If it is the employee’s desire not to become pregnant and they depend on contraception for this to remain the case, and the only reason they become pregnant is because of their employer… why couldn’t they sue?

  • P J Evans

    I have to say that that particular employer is really good when it comes to people: (They’re not kidding about being an equal-opportunity employer, either).

  • Ruby_Tea

    Nice catch.

    Also, what GuestPoster really seems to be saying is that the only people who ever should be hired for any job are childfree orphans.  It’s not like the mother just pops out the kid and hands it over to the Baby Growery for the next 18 years.  And the most time I ever had to take off work was for 1) accident and 2) final illness and death of my grandmother.

    So, yeah, GuestPoster appears to be arguing for Gattaca.  Anyone with a family, be they parents, children, siblings, whatever, should just stay home and not be a drain on the poor, persecuted employer’s time.

  • Madhabmatics

    so is this the new “poor people shouldn’t be allowed to have a family” thread or what

  • smrnda

    ” My argument is that employers, with every law that is passed in this
    field, are ALSO posed with some horrible choices: hire only men (and
    lose the value that women bring), or lose more and more money on women
    who become pregnant.”

    Well, if they get stuck losing money on women, I don’t care. Yeah, it inconveniences employers, but seriously, I don’t care. The field isn’t level and the positions aren’t equal to begin with, so if we give women employees a +1 that ends up being a -1 for the employers, I’d say it’s pretty fair. The inconveniences faced by employers should be considered trivial compared to those faced by women, BECAUSE THEY ARE. Don’t whine about you little boo boo on you finger when someone has a bullet in the chest.

    I mean, YES, the ideal employee is a non-disabled man who is probably over 25 but under 40 with a stay-at-home wife to maximize his availability for overtime, but our laws have to protect people who aren’t the ‘ideal employee’ with minimal need for accommodation. For people who feel horribly victimized, like men who want to wail and moan that they’ll have to pick up the slack while a pregnant woman can’t lift the box, they don’t have to deal with being pregnant now, do they? True, from the perspective of *the job* it doesn’t seem to matter, but the whole idea of laws regulating the workplace is a system where only *the job* counts, workers will be oppressed.

    Let’s take this example – if one worker calls in sick, the remaining workers will likely have to adjust. They could choose to be assholes and complain, but usually they don’t since a system where you can get paid for a sick day benefits them. I’m not going to get pregnant (at least I highly doubt it) since I’m with another woman and have no plans on having a child, but I don’t mind if I might have to pick up the slack for a pregnant coworkers down the line. I mean, I’ve been temporarily disabled and unwilling to work and the system helped me. The whole ‘let’s resent everyone who gets a break ever’ is just a way of thinking that’s not productive.

  • Antigone10

    My boss is one of those people who runs a small company.  I think it has a total of 8 employees that are 25-40 hours a week.  One of them got pregnant.  Now, we need ever person here because of adult-to-children ratios, and she doesn’t employ enough people to worry about firing someone for being pregnant*.  But when one of our employees got pregnant, she kept her for as long was physically possible in what can be a very demanding job, and hired a temp worker for the period she was gone.  She is also right on the margins, not making a ton of money.

    If she can do it for the low-paid, under-appreciated job we do, John can work something out with box-lifter Tina.

    *We don’t get paid time off, or paid sick leave- she covers our shifts if one of us is sick, and we haven’t had 2 sick at the same time.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    One thing that would probably help is changing the unemployment insurance rules to say that pregnancy is an allowable condition to claim for UI benefits.

  • Hilary

    Repeating what I had said earlier, a company that allows their employee’s some flexability to deal with life will have much more loyal employees and better moral.  A company, even a very small one, that accomodates a pregnant woman would have her come back with even more reason to work hard, to repay her part of a social contract that her work is valuable enough for the company to help her when she needed minor, reasonable accomodation for a limited time. 

    Especially at the more ‘desposable’ jobs with people more on the edge of one paycheck away from disaster, reasonable help that recognized a pregnant woman as a human being not a thowaway piece of human shaped equipment would be an incredible gain in moral, both for her and for the other workers who saw that they would also be treated well in the same condition (if female) or respecting that their mothers/sisters/wives/female friends would be reasonalbly well treated.  My wife Penny worked 25-35 hours a week ‘part time’ quote as a cashier for a crafting chain store (not hobby lobby).  The bosses that respected her, respected her time and work, and allowed her to sit on a tall stool that we bought out of pocket when she badly twisted her ankle so she could keep cashiering won her loyalty and a lot of hard work.  The bosses who didn’t see her as human and complained about the chair, and a cane when she needed it, got a competant minimun of work.

    This type of legislation should be a no brainer.  It shouldn’t even be needed.  If a boss/supervisor/employer was a human being enough to let a preganant woman swap duties with a non-pregant employee so she could still work, there would be no need for any outside agency to step in and say, “Don’t be an asshole, and don’t be a stupid one at that.”  I had no difficulty making chemical buffers that were more toxic or taking raw material that was tetragenic for a pregnant coworker, knowing that if I ever needed the same help I could get it.  Reciprical, win-win empathy is good for moral which is good for a bottem line.  No. Fucking. Duh.

    The best part of my OSHA standards for work?  I get to wear jeans, a t-shirt, and closed toes sneakers every day for work.  No makeup, no panty hose, no corperate casual, no busness three piece suits, none of that crap.  Just jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, a pony tail, and a lab coat.  And cool lab glasses, and my own personal set of pipettes.  Protein purification is where it’s at, and colummn chromatography rocks my world.  So now you guys all know protein science is my day job, and Jewish theology my hobby.  And I have three cats, and a wife.

  • Hilary

    Good for morale.  Spelling is not one of my hobbies. 

  • Kirala

    I’d like to point out that allowing companies to make statistically-reasonable self-interest policies results in a lot of needless costs as well. Fortunately, my first employers were decent people who absorbed the cost despite being a struggling startup, but they were shocked to find that my health insurance would cost them double that of their male employees because I was a young woman and therefore prone to pregnancy. Never mind that I was a thoroughly single young woman with no plans of sex until marriage (and no desirable partners on the horizon to test those plans – not to mention intimacy issues). Allowing the insurance companies to work in their own self-interest did nothing to genuinely help them (apart from increasing their profits, presumably) and genuinely hurt my employers. Because they refused to pass the cost along and hurt me instead, which they legally could have managed.

    I dislike being taxed for having ovaries, especially since, if we’re arguing that pregnancy is a choice, it’s as much the choice of the person with the testes who’s getting off scot-free.

  • Wednesday

    Here’s why the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act shouldn’t actually discourage employers from hiring women: statistically speaking, between two equally-qualified, equally-experienced workers in the same field, one a woman and one a man*, the woman will be paid less**. In other words, women are cheaper to employ from a payroll standpoint. Various studies have shown this in different fields; offhand I can dig up a citation showing this for academia as a whole that includes controlling for time taken off to have kids, and one for a lab tech job showing identical applicants will be viewed as less competent and offered a lower starting salary if they have a female-gendered name.

    So women are already, statistically speaking, cheaper to employ than men for equal qualifications and equal quality work. The PWFA just makes people who use their uterii for reproduction more expensive to employ than women who do not use their uterii or do not have one. It does not necessarily make them more expensive to employ than men; without more specific data we cannot know whether the added cost of PWFA compliance outweighs the gender paycheck difference.

    *Using inherently binary terms not because genderqueer people don’t exist, but because the studies I’ve seen only compare men and women, and don’t discuss what those categories mean.

    **Anyone who replies to this by saying “this is just because women don’t negotiate” will be eye-rolled and condescended at and treated with exactly the same impatience and disdain that I was when I, a cis woman, attempted to negotiate a job offer.

  • Carstonio

    “this is just because women don’t negotiate”

    Eye-rolling and condescension are exactly the right reactions to that. I have the same reaction to the very common claim that disparities in pay and advancement are mostly about women “putting their families first.” All parents make sacrifices for their children, and find balances between work life and home life, yet these are assumed to affect only mothers. The people who make that argument should just come out and admit that they want mothers to stay home.

  • MaryKaye

    I was for a decade or so a very small employer (embedded within a much bigger one, but my three employees were in fact paid by me, off my grants).  One of my employees did in fact get pregnant, twice, during that time.

    I count myself lucky, actually.  She was brilliant and I couldn’t really afford her on what I was able to pay (NIH caps my pay scales at about 2/3 what industry offers).  But I could say, “Take as much time as you need, work flex, work from home, leave if you have an emergency” and that got me an excellent employee for a decade.  (I can verify she could have made a lot more, because when my grants ran out she took a job in industry, and now she is making a LOT more.)

    Also when the black mold appeared on the lab ceiling and Building Services wanted to ignore it, I got to call them and say “I have a PREGNANT employee, get your butts down here” which worked beautifully.  (They came in, took off the tiles, swore and got protective gear before continuing–it was actually something quite dangerous.)

    If you value these people as people, you can find ways to deal.  We do not need to protect employers’ rights to not value their employees as people.  It’s bad for everyone.  (Even the employer.  My employee was  made some nice offers during that decade from businesses that presumably really wanted her, but they didn’t get her because they were not as willing to accomodate as I was.)

  • fraser

     It’s been argued elsewhere that if a business wants to act ethically, it can always find ways to justify that as a smart financial move.

  • Si

    When concern trolls turn up, we all find ourselves arguing points that have been universally agreed upon since at least the last century. Today’s edition: Why Decent Accommodations For Workers Actually Helps Society.

    The one nice thing about rehashing these already-won battles is as an exercise to examine the sound principles behind them. For that, we thank you, concern troll.

    Here’s my go: First, as someone already pointed out, these rules exempt very small businesses, so your “john and sally” example is rubbish. Second: there is a greater good being served that benefits the employer as well as the employee, and the benefit is NOT LIVING IN A WORLD WHERE PEOPLE ARE EXPLOITED and discriminated against, the world that Fred would call “Potterville.” Potterville is the world Dickens lived in, the world of prisons and workhouses. Potterville is the company town. Potterville is the demonic mill. Potterville is the favela. Potterville sucks. No one wants to live there. Even the rich in their walled citadels don’t want to live there.

    So when employers complain about having to pay for an employee’s pregnancy leave, when retired people complain about having to fund schools for other people’s children through their taxes, when conservatives complain about having to fund universal health care through taxes, I don’t understand. No one wants to live in that world because that world is full of crime and despair and plague and unhappiness and violence. Justice is not just a sentiment, it’s a tangible good. A tangible good we all share.

  • Daughter

     May I just say Amen, Ditto, Co-Sign, This, Word, and any other expressions that indicate my hearty agreement?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    How does they handle it in Europe?  I’ve heard that they give months of vacation time and a whole YEAR of maternity leave in some countries, [SARCASM] but that’s clearly impossible because then all their businesses would go bankrupt.[/SARCASM]

  • syfr

    Princeton (I think) had a “stop-your-tenure-clock” option if you have a child.  Very few men took advantage of it, and fewer women than one would expect did either.  (They didn’t want to be seen as uncompetitive and undedicated.)  The solution?   Required tenure-clock-stoppage for everyone!  And it worked!

  • Leum

    (I think) had a “stop-your-tenure-clock” option if you have a child. 
    Very few men took advantage of it, and fewer women than one would expect
    did either.  (They didn’t want to be seen as uncompetitive and
    undedicated.)  The solution?   Required tenure-clock-stoppage for
    everyone!  And it worked!
    Today, of course, no one gets tenure so that system wouldn’t work.

  • P J Evans

     Your blockquotes will work better if you put the ‘u’ after the ‘q’ instead of after the ‘o’. (Also, your comment will show up better if it’s after [/blockquote].)

  • Buck Eschaton

    I’m pro-life. I have no problem with long, extended mandatory maternity and paternity leave. I also have no problem with the government throwing money at new families, or any families and people to pay their debts and get them on firm footing. 
    The government would just have to tell Wall Street that “Hey, we’re going to stop giving you 100’s of billions of dollars for no conceivable reason.” 
    It’s time to start supporting American families and not the looters on Wall Street.

  • Czanne

    Okay, Invisible Neutrino — first, I’m not being alarmist. This stuff has happened, in the United States (see this recent story about immigrant workers who were paid substandard wages, malnourished and confined to employer provided housing [], and also the practices of several of the long-haul trucking firms that are currently under DoL investigation for pay advance irregularities), and was a not terribly distant reality for most coal miners and textile workers as late as the 1920s. If it is happening now, to workers with an unequal power relationship (as visa workers do), it is a safe assumption to assume that if extended, the same chicanery and abuses will be perpetuated.

    Second: Paid Time Off (however it exists) is generally a defined, deferred benefit. One is granted X number of days and earns some fraction of a PTO day each pay period. (At least, that’s how it’s always been for me, whether with big companies or government or education or start-ups.) I get 6 paid holidays and 160 hours of PTO per year. I used 80 hours each of the last two years and rolled over 80, so I’m currently carrying about 190 hours. The holidays are defined, I earn 6 hours of PTO for each pay period. I’m allowed to accumulate up to 480 hours (12 weeks); more than that and I must use it or lose it. If I quit today, I will be paid through today and get the balance of my PTO in my final check. My uni does not allow us to go in the red on PTO. In theory, assuming a perfectly spherical, self-interested employee, my uni could just pay me an extra $2-3 per hour and make it my responsibility to save that cash for sick days, vacations and ski emergencies. But they know, and I know, that most people suck at discipline when faced with cash in pocket. PTO is a sort of forced savings plan. My uni owes me that compensation, and will pay on demand, whether that be a vacation, extended sick leave or me going somewhere else. They are in debt to me, per the contract we agreed upon when I took the job.

    Going into the red with PTO is reversing that — now I would owe my employer. It’s a Yog’s law sort of thing — money flows towards the author/employee. Any time an employer is also a creditor, the employee is in a doubly disempowered position.

    Would most employers forgive the PTO debt? Perhaps. Would most negotiate in good faith? Probably. Would most be flexible and accommodating to disability, be it temporary or permanent, sudden or chronic, related to pregnancy or related to a slip on ice? I think so, because most people are flexible and accommodating. It’s not the decent, humane, sensitive people we have to legislate for — it’s the jerks who abuse whatever system they’re in and anyone over whom they have power.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Point taken.

    Seems to me that the solution would be:

    1. Labor law should prohibit docking an employee for any paid time off in excess of that allowed by company policy.
    2. The company can get an allowable deduction on its taxes for the amount in excess.

    So the company is made whole and the employee doesn’t get penalized.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the existing tax rules already cover this contingency and the companies screwing their employees by “debiting” them on their last paycheck are double-dipping just to be cheap skinflints.

  • Karly Noelle Abreu

    I’m a pro-life woman, and OF COURSE I’d support this act. Rethink your stereotypes.

  • AnonymousSam

    You’re one of a minority. Most of the pro-life advocates I’ve seen comment on this have called it “needless government interference,” “a waste of money,” and uttered words to the effect of “employers shouldn’t HAVE to hire pregnant women” (or inversely, “pregnant women shouldn’t be working anyway!”)