Opinion: Corporate America Still Hates Moms

Filed under: Work Life, Opinions


mom and daughter at work

Corporate America needs to get a clue when it comes to working moms. Credit: Getty Images

Former Goldman Sachs Vice President Charlotte Hanna recently filed a lawsuit against her employer, alleging that the firm pushed her out the door just when she was about to return to work after her second maternity leave. And that's not all: The suit claims that 75 percent of the women in her department who were also terminated had taken maternity leave.

Holy mommy track, Batman! I wish I could say this shocks me, but it doesn't. Moms are still second-class citizens in the workplace. We're not granted an adequate maternity leave, we're shuttled into dead-end jobs when we drag ourselves back to work just six weeks after giving birth, and then we're told by our fellow employees that our parenthood is a burden to them when we have to take time off to care for our families.

If you don't believe me, go take a gander at the comments Hanna's story generated over at the Web site Gothamist. I'll give you a sneak peek: "Amazing how parenthood is awarded special legal and social privileges," writes a commenter named Spook.

Or how about this one from a guy calling himself Mr. Shankly: "Stay home with the kids, sweetie. We're busy raping the world right now. But seriously, if I was on the other side busting my hump, and someone else expected to hop back in at will after playing house, I'd be peeved. Make a choice: family or cut-throat, high-powered career. Crybabies can stay home."

Um, yes. Parents do deserve special legal rights -- the same legal rights that every other employee has. The right to due process and the legal right to family leave. In fact, we have this cool thing here in the United States called the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which gives any person the right to take an unpaid leave to deal with a medical emergency, to care for a sick family member or -- hold on to your hats, folks -- care for a new child, by birth or adoption.

Hanna's allegations are upsetting enough, but what's worse is the tone of the conversation that follows. This is how we value the people who raise the next generation of human beings? We call them "breeders" and "crybabies" who are "playing house?" I'm sorry, but raising a family is not an animal act or a game.

To those who complain about picking up the slack for a parent who is dealing with a sick kid, I say shame on you. I worked in corporate America for a long time, well before I had kids. I picked up plenty of slack for people who were out playing golf.

Moms are already engaged in a scary tightrope act. The fact of the matter is that many families really can't afford for Mom to stay home with the kids. Yes, a vice president at Goldman Sachs probably does make a pretty penny, but don't think Hanna's situation is an isolated one.

And as for the assertion that moms get special treatment at work, that's a joke. Just look at the case of LaNisa Allen, who was fired in August 2005 when she was caught pumping her breast milk on the job. The courts said the company she worked for had the right to fire her for taking an unauthorized break.

Like it or not, working women are going to have children, and if they don't we're all in trouble. It's time for corporate America to get a clue, stop hating on moms and start seeing them for who they are -- valuable, hard-working employees who have the same rights as all of you non-breeders out there.

Related: Moms More Likely to Get Laid Off



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