The Revolt of Working Parents
Mothers—and some fathers—are increasingly suing employers for discriminating against working parents. They are succeeding.
“There is no way you can be a good mother while achieving what I aspire."
“Let’s face it. It’s a man’s world. The woman always stays home with the child.”
“It’s hard to do this job with two kids.”
These are just a few phrases working mothers reported hearing from their supervisors when discussing promotions or demotions, according to recent court filings. The subtle—and sometimes overt—perception illustrated by these statements—that mothers are less devoted to their jobs than childless workers—has been dubbed “the Maternal Wall” or “the New Glass Ceiling.” This has led to a wave of claims of gender discrimination based on parental responsibilities, which now make up a growing number of lawsuits against American employers.
In the past decade, the number of caregiver-discrimination lawsuits has tripled compared to the previous decade, according to research from the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, San Francisco. Between 2006 and 2015, researchers found that more than 3,000 such cases were decided in state and federal courts, even as overall federal job-discrimination claims were declining. This growing number of lawsuits includes claims from mothers, fathers and those who take care of ill or disabled relatives. These aren’t baseless lawsuits either, as more than half have led to compensation for victims—a higher-than-average success rate for job-discrimination claims.
In a major class-action lawsuit filed last summer, seven high-level female employees of the software developer, Qualcomm, sued the company on behalf of more than 3,000 female workers for gender discrimination, including motherhood discrimination. The women claimed that they were repeatedly passed over for advancement in favor of less-qualified male employees. They believe this explains why women make up only 5 percent of senior management positions at the San Diego-based tech firm, and only 5 percent of top engineering positions. “Qualcomm maintains an unwritten policy of disparately rewarding employees who work late into the night over employees who choose to arrive early and leave at the end of a normal work-day. This policy disparately impacts and causes the Company to undervalue caregivers of school-aged children ... These common policies stigmatize employees with caregiving responsibilities and disproportionately penalize women,” they wrote in their complaint.
One of the plaintiffs, a senior-level market analyst and working mother, said that she was passed over for promotions in favor of substantially less-qualified male Parental Discrimination Lawsuits on the Rise - The Atlantic: