One Texas mother-to-be contests a policy at her work that discriminates against pregnant women, and won. Here's what that means for expectant employees everywhere.
File this under scary, politically incorrect work policies: A Houston-based nonprofit has a "no pregnancy in the workplace" practice, meaning it won't hire expectant women and will let go of an employee if she conceives. This is what happened to Shamira Johnson, a resource technician who previously worked at the organization and filed a lawsuit after she was fired for becoming pregnant, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Talk about family-unfriendly! While United Bible Fellowship Ministries, Inc., may do a lot of good in the world, providing housing and care for people with disabilities, the organization passed a critical misjudgment when it claimed that Johnson's firing was "justifiable in order to ensure her safety, that of her unborn baby, and the safety of its clients." There is no evidence or logic to such a statement, and, thankfully, U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore found fault with it, noting that it failed to comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In other words, the egregious policy went against the act's prohibition of discriminating based upon sex, race, religion, and other characteristics.
As a result, Johnson is being awarded approximately $25,000 in back pay and overtime, in addition to another $50,000 for damages. But while this is good news for one very wronged mother-to-be, others continue to be discriminated against on a regular basis. Although the Supreme Court recently ruled that pregnant workers are entitled to the same considerations and accommodations given any disabled worker, after a woman employed by UPS was put on unpaid leave when she told them she couldn't lift heavy objects, there are still untold women who suffer discrimination at work once they start growing bellies. Despite a clearly worded, 37-year-old federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, more than 5,000 pregnancy-related discrimination suits were filed in 2013.
With nearly 70% of first-time soon-to-be mothers currently in the workforce, a lot of women may be potentially affected by misguided pregnancy-related management. Until every expecting woman is fully secure in her standing at the office, there's really no telling what kind of unfair practices she needs to protect herself from during her 9 to 5.