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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Take your kids to work, and get fired!

When I recently interviewing author Leslie Bennetts, she told me that when managers learn someone is a mom, they are reluctant to hire them. I think most working parents would agree that kids are a major distraction from work, whether through sleep deprivation or unexpected absences from work due to school days off or children's sick days. Part of me understands a manager's reluctance.

But working moms also happen to make up some of the most experienced and loyal employees. Is it right then for a worker to be turned away because she's a mom? Is it right for her to be fired for taking a day off to care for a sick child or to bring a child with her to work in an emergency? Joan Williams at the University of California Hastings College of the Law discovered these type of firings happens more often than you would think, especially among the working class. Click here for her report One Sick Child Away from Being Fired: When Opting Out Isn't an Option.

In my column today in The Miami Herald, I quoted lawyers who said work/family conflicts regularly lead to firings in Florida, but there's little recourse. Of course, there are parents who abuse employers' good will, but there are real emergencies too. I don't think giving someone the ax is the right way to go, do you?


Blogger K Vasantha said...

I agree with you. I have seen this happen everywhere. It also has more subtle connotations ... one may not get fired, but one will also not get a promotion as easily, one would not be paid at the same level as male colleagues in a similar role. It is very unfair.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous kat said...

I'm conflicted about this. In the past, I've been the childless employee who repeatedly picked up the slack for coworkers with "family obligations." The majority of the tme, these coworkers were taking extraordinary advantage those of us who stepped in to manage their projects, attend their meetings, etc. One used to leave (significantly) early to coach his children's sports teams three times a week. Another didn't start assuming responsibility for her department until her assistant was promoted to a position as her supervisor. After that, her absences sharply decreased, and her work product improved dramatically.

I now find myself in the position of being a couple weeks away from the birth of my first child. Having had the experiences outlined above, I have made a concerted effort to not be those people. Having a child is my decision, and MY responsibility -- not that of my coworkers. However, I worry a lot about not receiving a promotion and raise that seemed a given before I informed by employer that I was pregnant. It isn't that I think my supervisors feel that mothers are lesser workers. They have been nothing but supportive. I am worried because I may not be able to handle the REQUIRED extra responsibilities with a young child. And if that is the case, it isn't really fair of me to receive the promotion. If I am performing less well than other employees, then I don't expect that I should be compensated at the same level (although it would be nice!).

I have a job that will allow me to work from home, so I should be able to keep up with my responsibilities. I don't know what I would do if I had to be on-site 100% of the time.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous earn money at home said...

This is a sad, but often true predicament. Currently, I work from home creating party favors as a home-based business. I decided to stay home after I had my daughter. However, I know if I would have returned to work out of the house, I would have faced some uncomfortable situations with having to leave for doctor's appointments and such. I really do love the freedom and flexibility of getting to work from home.

1:56 PM  

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