It never happens and besides they deserve it

It never happens and besides they deserve it October 9, 2014

A reader writes:

It seems that many of your readers are unwilling to believe that pregnant mothers face discrimination at the workplace. Perhaps they might consider Forbes to be a reliable source on this issue. We cannot be an effective voice for life issues if we aren’t willing to understand and be compassionate and supportive regarding the issues single mothers face.

This is a pro-life issue.

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  • Joseph

    Whoa, people actually doubt that? Discrimination is prevalent for pregnant women, men who are dedicated to their families, people over 40 in the workplace, and over race (on the rare occasion over religion, but usually when the one being discriminated against is obnoxious about their particular religion). I guess it’s only people who’ve never worked in the corporate world that don’t believe this discrimination exists. I’ve seen it so many times. And puuuulease, let no one come back with something stupid like, ‘failed HR policies’. In recent years, the only unacceptable discrimination in the corporate workplace that will result in punishment from HR is if you so much as glance at a transvestite who has just had gender reassignment the wrong way when they’re in the wrong bathroom or use the wrong wording or have an unfortunately bad reaction after getting hit on by someone with SSA. Those are the *only* HR sacred cows. They get their orders from the top just like everyone else.

    • kenofken

      So have the pregnant woman, through a bit of FX magic, start wearing a beard and dressing like a dude and take a guys’ name (Craig works well). There are female-to-male transgender. Make lemonade out of those lemon HR policies! 🙂

      • Joseph

        That’s actually a good idea and may work. Sh-he’d get a heap of compliments, I’m sure. Then everyone in the office would be forced at gunpoint to give himher compliments as well. Good thinking.

      • IRVCath

        Thanks for sending orange juice through my nose…

      • Marthe Lépine

        And the pregnancy can be covered up by claiming it is a beer belly.

    • HR policies are in and of themselves a form of discrimination. The whole intent of having a Human Resources department is to treat people like things instead of people (treat human beings like resources, managed like paper clips).

      • MarylandBill

        That is painting things far too broadly. I agree some HR departments can be like that, but other HR departments really were there to help both the company and the employees have a productive relationship.

        • I’ve never seen one. Even Intel, with it’s Great Place to Work Policy, the HR department is clearly on the side of the shareholders, doing only the minimum necessary to keep a highly skilled workforce from jumping ship.

          A big hint is if your manager refers to “resources” instead of people.

          • Mundy

            The ‘reason for being’ for the HR dept is to cover the employers back – create enough paper justification to let the employer legally do whatever they want.
            I pity the employees who go to HR for redressal of any action by the employer. The result would be one more effort to make sure that the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.

            • Joseph

              The first thing HR does when an employee goes to HR is discuss the matter with their superiors. They say that’s not the case and the official position is that your issues are anonymous, but I’ve worked for at least a dozen different clients as a consultant and have seen that this is a fantasy. If you have a problem and you go to HR with it, forget about your bonus. If you live in a *right to work* state, don’t be surprised when you start receiving scathing emails for a job poorly done from your superiors… setting you up for a clean break up. If not, get ready to be pushed out through attrition, given unreasonable tasks with unreasonable deadlines, etc.
              .
              They are organs for upper management and corpobots. The only thing they actually *do* care about are issues that pertain to the use of sexual organs.

    • cmfe

      In previous discussions of this topic on this blog, there was a lot of downplaying and outright denial of the difficulties pregnant women face in the workplace. So, yes, there are people who doubt it.

  • BHG

    Yes, it is. And yes we need to work against it. But in the great both/and tradition of Catholicism, in addition to solving it in law we need to as a Christian people solve it closer to home. It’s always easier to tell someone else what to do that to make changes in our own lives to help others. The question poses itself: isn’t the most important job of a mother to raise her children? And if so, what do we do as parishes and people (not just through the government , which always tends to mess it up) to help the single mother who lives among us to raise her children and not HAVE to work a job that requires heavy lifting to boot?

    • Michaelus

      I often offer to go tell the father to do his duty and horsewhip him if he refuses.

      • BHG

        A woman I know simply brought one such woman to live with her. It is not such a far fetched concept and much easier given horse whips are hard to come by.

        • Michaelus

          Certainly a great thing to do – but where is the father? Why should the mother bear the burden herself? I know – he is probably a dope smoking unemployable idiot and she was probably working while he contemplated his next tattoo. But it is still important to tell the fellow that he is a man and men have a duty to protect their wives and children and not abandon them. That is the way God made men to be.

          • BHG

            Or he could be dead, mentally ill or disabled. Or in another country unable to emigrate. Yes there is room for improvement in the behavior of men toward women. Even those to whom they are not married. Or she may have abandoned him, burned all bridges and now regrets it.

    • MarylandBill

      Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see anything in that story that related specifically to single mothers. Even if a woman is married and her husband has a job, she might still need to work to make ends meet. It might be different now, but a lot of those UPS jobs that take involve sorting packages and loading trucks use to be part time positions that were perfect for someone who needed a decent paying part time job and/or benefits (Again, I don’t know the current situation, but UPS use to give good benefits even to their part time employees).

      • “Even if a woman is married and her husband has a job, she might still need to work to make ends meet.”

        That’s why I added “and a living wage for men” to the above. Right now, the minimum wage is not a living wage.

  • The best defense against single motherhood is heterosexual marriage combined with a living wage for fathers tied to size of the family.

    Having said that, we’ve destroyed heterosexual marriage and living wages in our culture to the point that discrimination against mothers in the workplace is a problem. It should never be allowed to occur unless the job itself puts the unborn child in danger.

    • MarylandBill

      How do we tie wages to the size of a family without creating an incentive amongst companies to discriminate against men with families? I am not opposed to a living wage, but I think the wage needs to be set the same for employees regardless of whether they have families. Yes, it means married men will not have as much surplus as single men, but we already are use to that.

      • BHG

        Mark references single mothers but of course the issue is broader than that

        • MarylandBill

          Ah, I was looking in the referenced story, not the quote with the link on it. But I still think focusing on single mothers here is a mistake since this is definitely an issue that can impact both married and unmarried mothers.

      • It used to be, a long time ago, that the relationship between employer and employee was far more personal, and that the employer actually acknowledged that the employee was a human being deserving of a life of equal quality to the employer.

        So the simple answer to your question is in a mammon-worshiping society where all decisions are made on price alone, we can’t.

        The more complex answer is that a Catholic employer, who is pro-life, should be giving a raise to any man whose wife is pregnant, merely because the employer is Catholic.

        Now watch the libertarians come out of the woodwork to crucify the entire concept of an employer actually caring about his employees and having a positive duty to provide a living wage.

        • Joseph

          “It used to be, a long time ago, that the relationship between employer
          and employee was far more personal, and that the employer actually
          acknowledged that the employee was a human being deserving of a life of
          equal quality to the employer.”
          .
          Sorry, when was this time? Do you have any examples?

          • jroberts548

            When you bust a picketing employee’s skull in, you’re really close to him. It’s like you’re really inside his head.

            Back in the day, a lot of employers knew their employees’ kids. By “knew,” I mean “employed at starvation wages,” but, whatever, close enough.

          • MarylandBill

            He probably was right, at least for small enough businesses. But even then, it probably was the exception rather than the rule.

          • Henry Ford is a good example- of course, he was into living wages for other less altruistic reasons as well, but the Ford Motor Company back in the 1920s would give raises to men with pregnant wives.

            It was also common practice, back in the days of the Medieval Guilds, for a master to give a cost of living adjustment to an apprentice upon marriage or having a child (though one could point out that the pre-industrial relationship between Master and Apprentice was far more personal to begin with than after the Industrial revolution).

            With some employers you had to ask. But there was a time when it was considered awfully greedy to refuse a raise for that reason.

            Of course, today you’d need to give a person a $6/hr raise per person in the family….Hmm, that’s not out of sight. A newlywed couple, the man should earn $12/hr. Add child #1, $18/hr. Add child #2, $24/hr. I was earning that straight out of college.

            • petey

              this was a very personal sort of relationship:

              “The elder Ford, who despised labor unions, instead put his trust in
              Harry Bennett, head of Ford’s Service Department, who promised to keep
              the unions at bay. In the much-publicized “Battle of the Overpass” on
              May 26, 1937, Ford henchmen brutally beat several UAW organizers
              (including Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen) attempting to hand
              out leaflets at Ford’s River Rouge plant. In the aftermath of this
              incident, Ford Motor Company was found guilty of violating the Wagner
              Act, and in early 1941 the National Labor Relations Board ordered the
              company to stop interfering with the union’s attempts to organize”

              http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ford-signs-first-contract-with-autoworkers-union

              • Yes. Henry Ford, as I said, did not support a living wage for altruistic reasons- he did so because he wanted the families of his workers to be able to afford his car. He then resisted unionization for quite a number of years.

                Some conservatives point to the Wagner Act as the very thing that destroyed the relationship between employer and employee, but I think the relationship was on its way out when the industrial age started.

      • Kurt 20008

        “How do we tie wages to the size of a family without creating an incentive amongst companies to discriminate against men with families?”
        By a fair and progressive income tax system.

      • Episteme

        The only way is to implicitly lower the wages of those of us already not marrying (and thus having children) because we can’t yet afford to — because of our already-low wages as single-earner ‘households’ in this so-called economy. Of course, the obvious call would be for us to suck it up and get a third or fourth job, but that would entail having to give up the added parish responsibilities that we’ve had to pick up in all of “extra free time as singles,” leaving no one to keep the place running for your children and staff your events.

        We’re talking here in this threaded discussion about Catholics, remember. Consider the implications of who you’re hurting when you want to throw more money at one population. This is why there’s a marriage crisis in the church: current couples and families became solipsists.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Implicit lowering of my wages would hardly have any effect on my life. But just so I understand, you object to any implicit sacrifice on your part? Maybe your closing thought is worthy of consideration regardless, when viewed in this light.

    • cmfe

      Unless she’s a widow, has separated from a dangerous partner, was raped, husband disabled… why not just agree that mothers who need to support their children be able to do that?

      • “why not just agree that mothers who need to support their children be able to do that?”

        I do agree, but that doesn’t change the fact that heterosexual marriage with a living wage standard is the most successful anti-poverty program ever created.

  • Kurt 20008

    but remember, a baby is less dead when killed by the private sector.

  • Guest

    i had an interestingly heated debate between right-wing catholics about the hypothetical situation of a unplanned pregnancy with a single teacher at a catholic school. their opinion is that they should be fired because it would send a bad message to the kids. you know, “better to have a millstone around your neck” kind of thing.

    the only time a teacher at a catholic school should be fired is when they cause public and serious scandal. the pregnancy should have nothing to do with it. last time i checked, people’s private activities do not cause scandal.

    • petey

      they can within the canonical definition of that word.

    • Peggy

      You’ve adopted the left’s language: “unplanned pregnancy by single woman.” This is public evidence of her engaging in sex outside of marriage, a mortal sin. [Unless a recent widow or abandoned wife] It would be nice if we can pin it on the men responsible as well.

      • Linebyline

        And a roomful of kindergartners know that she’s not abandoned or widowed? Or, say, raped?

        Even if you do know it for sure, it’s not evidence of a mortal sin. Only evidence of having, at one point, committed an action that is grave matter for a mortal sin. There are two more requirements that are extremely difficult for anyone but the sinner and God to know about.

        In a world where “the left” pushes hard to convince people that unplanned pregnancies should be prevented by contraceptives or, failing that, aborted, a woman who has an embarrassing pregnancy and decides to keep the child could be (not necessarily, I admit, but could very well be) giving a positive example by doing the right thing even when it’s inconvenient or humiliating.

        • Peggy

          I would think the children would know for sure when a teacher’s husband died. They likely know she is “Mrs. A” and pregnant, whether they know the husband is an abuser or has taken off. (or understand such things) So, they wouldn’t be scandalized…maybe confused. One has to use judgment. But an unmarried woman and man engaging in sex outside marriage is a mortal sin for both. The example is a problem at any age of student. The older kids might be of graver concern as they see her “heroism” in keeping the baby offsetting the mortal sin. That sends an unclear message.

          • Linebyline

            You do make a good point. There are a lot of things to consider, and the situation calls for prudential judgment. But firing the teacher is almost certainly not the right answer. Letting her continue to teach with no apparent consequences (granting that her sin is apparent, which isn’t a given but can certainly happen sometimes) sends a bad message, but so does kicking her to the curb and the baby along with her.

            My first instinct is to say that just knowing that somebody sinned isn’t the same as scandal, but it’s not hard to imagine situations in which students might become convinced that if she did it, it’s not so bad.

            It’s also true that people are going to talk no matter what. So while you have to do your best to set a good example for others and avoid leading them to sin, there does come a point when you have to let them be responsible for their own reactions.

            Ultimately, the solution comes straight out of the “easier said than done” file: Make sure the students are well educated on the Church’s teachings about chastity, sin, repentance, and charity.

            At any rate, though, I have to stand by the distinction between mortal sin and grave matter.

          • Marthe Lépine

            But… If the women had immediately, or soon after, regretted her sin, and went to confession the next day, or even some time later, she is no longer in a state of mortal sin, therefore her “heroism” in keeping the baby does not “offset” a mortal sin that was forgiven some time earlier. Then what? By the way, if she had had an abortion, she would not be causing a scandal, since her students would never know she had even been pregnant, so, in your opinion, that would be OK? Or preferable… Of course, the ideal is not to sin… The problem is just that some sins have consequences that are more visible than other.

  • Guest

    what about a pregnant single women who teaches at a catholic school? shouldn’t they be fired for being pregnant out-of-wedlock says “conservative” catholics?

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Yeah, I can totally see the equivalence between firing an employee who violates the morals clause of a contract, and not accommodating the temporary physical disability of an employee.

      Not that I agree with these “conservative” Catholics you cite, just trying to point out how badly your red herring smells.

      You’re trolling in support of exploiting labor. How do you sleep at night?

      • Peggy

        Your language is odd The left thinks pregnancy is a “disability” too…one to be prevented by birth control.

        • Linebyline

          I think in the context of Hezekiah Garrett’s comment, it’s fair. Pregnancy places a gradually increasing limit on what women are able to do. This of course differs for each mother, but in general it comes with an increasing number of restrictions, with a corresponding increase in things an employer must do to accommodate her, culminating in a (sometimes quite lengthy) period of downtime.

          It’s not a disease, of course, but neither did Garrett say it was.

          Picking apart others’ language choices can sometimes be useful, but you’re not helping anything by ignoring the fact that Garrett’s whole comment is in support of pregnant women and focusing instead on a single word, much less by using that word to insinuate that Garrett sides with the left on contraception. (Which neither the post nor Garrett’s comment was even about, speaking of red herrings.)

          • Peggy

            I see that the legal case is relying on such language as the woman is “temporarily disabled” in her ability to perform her job.

            I have to say I am amazed at how uncertain the law is on this today. This should be a no-brainer to accommodate the woman.

            • Linebyline

              Should be, yeah. But corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholders’ profits. Plus, big businesses seem to think that making less profit than they could have and making profits that don’t exceed last month’s profits both count as losing money. In that environment, they’re going to squeeze every cent they can out of their employees and customers, so if it comes down to paying a woman the same amount of money to do less work and eventually no work, or firing her and paying a new hire less money to do the same work, that’s the no-brainer.

              We need to change the standard, if you ask me. A business should be about providing a good wage for its employees and good products and services for its customers/clients, not just lining investors’ pockets.

  • Linebyline

    “It never happens” I get. That’s what the reader’s comment is in response to. But where is the “they deserve it” part coming from? It’s not in the comment, and it’s not in the linked article. So who exactly is saying this?

    Are you talking about the controversies about unwed mothers? Because I didn’t see anything in the linked article, your reader’s comment, or even your own words. If that’s your point, you might have clarified, but even then it’s a red herring. (An issue that needs to be addressed, certainly, but not necessarily related to the issue of pregnant women generally being discriminated against.)

    And lest I be misunderstood: No, pregnant women–even when they’re pregnant due to their own sexual immorality–do not deserve to be crapped on by their bosses or anyone else. I wholeheartedly agree with your reader on this point.

    It’s just that I feel like your posts spend a lot of time making accusations or otherwise inflammatory or divisive statements that are tangential or even unrelated to the points you’re trying to make.

  • virago

    My link doesn’t work. But back in good ole conservative bible belt Oklahoma about 20 years ago a young single female teacher at my son’s Catholic school got pregnant. In fact, I was his first grade teacher. As soon as she knew this (the man I later married worked for parish and was on the school board so l knew the details) she informed the Principal and resigned. Moved on with the widowed music teacher and lived off savings, donations and state aid. Somehow she managed to stay on the diocese pitiful healthcare insurance, had her baby and came to work the next school year. No moral indignities were observed and no psychological damage was evidenced in the children. Gentle persuasion and threat of legal action encourage the father to man up and pay his fair share, eventually.

    A young woman exercised poor judgement, committed a sin if you will or must. But she gave our parish an opportunity to flex our Christian charity and we didn’t fail her or ourselves.

    Not a remedy for all single woman pregnancies bug a creative one. We need more creativity.

    Full disclosure; I was an unmarried pregnant woman. Shunning and shaming is never acceptable or productive.

    One last comment, the young mother did receive some state aid. It was invaluable to her. It helped her get back on her feet. And, that in my universe is one of the better uses of my tax dollars.

    Her sin is none of my business. To borrow a quote from President Obama, that’s above my pay grade.

    • virago

      Clarification, SHE was his first grade teacher.I need to edit better.