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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  • 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.

  • 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

     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.

  • P J Evans

     Not. Getting. It.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.  

  • 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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

     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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • P J Evans

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

  • Only if GuestPoster could be Jerome Morrow with working legs.

  • 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.

  • katsjungle

     And yet

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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? 

  • Madhabmatics

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

  • 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”

  • 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?

  • 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.


    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.)

  • 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.”

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

  • 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.

  • 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