News of a pregnancy is typically met with great joy, multiple rounds of congratulations and, of course, nervous excitement on the part of friends and family. Unfortunately, employers may not share this same enthusiasm and may even resort to discriminatory practices upon hearing the news.
Governments across the world have long recognized protections for pregnant women against workplace discrimination. To illustrate, the nation of Sweden not only bans discrimination based on pregnancy, but also requires all employers with over 25 people on staff to help workers -- both female and male -- achieve a work-life balance.
35 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that discrimination against pregnant women who wanted to continue working was not sex discrimination. Instead, the court said, it was merely discrimination between women who were pregnant and women who were not, which was not illegal.
You might think it doesn't make much sense for a multinational corporation to discriminate against its top sales representatives, but corporations often make employment law decisions that don't make sense, except from a certain perspective. One of the most successful salespeople at the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc., has just filed a federal class action for gender discrimination, claiming that Merck's policies toward maternity leave and parenting issues forces women to choose between motherhood and success. She is seeking at least $100 million in compensation for women put in that position by Merck.
Last year, a former model on the game show "The Price Is Right" sued the show for pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination. She alleged extremely poor treatment by the show's producers, who apparently criticized her for gaining weight and even removed her from the show's website. Ultimately, she says, they fired her.
Deutsche Bank announced in July that it would cut 1,900 jobs and, on September 11, the German-based bank said there would be more. This was all part of a global cost-cutting plan, so people were worried. Luckily, the hedge fund group in the New York office was told on August 21 that no one in their area was slated to lose a job.