Background: Yesterday Judge Preska ruled that Bloomberg LP did not illegally discriminate against pregnant women by not treating their conditions more leniently in regards to leave. While some decried the decision as a great blow to life-work integration, it seems the judge was only following the law, according to employee side employment lawyer Piper Hoffman. However, the judge then made the mistake, according to Hoffman, of suggesting that maybe it would be better if employers treated pregnant women better.
My Reactions: As a mother, a wife, a professional, an employer, an advocate for children and an advocate for women, I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty that once again the legal system has failed to solve what is essentially a societal issue. And I think the judge’s comment was right. Let me explain.
In the US, little value is placed on our children. Living in poverty, receiving less healthcare support, and too often shuttling between parents who no longer are together, they are clearly not the center of our collective attentions. They have no vote, no organization, and few who advocate for them. Doesn’t sound fair.
Play that against the woman, who bears the child. In most instances, she is the primary caregiver, with (or often without) the help of the father or other supports. Doesn’t sound fair.
Take the employer, responsible for jobs and keeping our economy going. As one, I want my staff to give their all every day, never get sick, and live for my medical practice. Doesn’t sound fair.
The truth is that not everyone’s legal interests can be represented at the same time. So as I have come to believe, not laws but societal attitudes and a culture that values children is the key to our “liberation” as women whose biological imperative is to carry new life. Our future rests on these children. And their mothers. We need the women in the workforce and we need them as mothers bearing the next generation.
So at taking the risk of disagreeing with Ms. Piper, the judge had the courage to suggest that the law is flawed becasue it doesn’t protect our society’s needs which would be better served if we treated the mothers better of our future generations of consumers.