Category Archives: Working Women

Exposed: Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers

Source: Liz Morris – Center for WorkLife Law, Jessica Lee and Joan Williams – University of California Hastings College of the Law, January 1, 2019

From the abstract:
Due to the medical consensus that breastfeeding reduces major health risks to both babies and mothers, the United States is waging an ongoing struggle to improve breastfeeding duration rates. Yet legal protections for breastfeeding parents in the workplace have not kept pace with the U.S.’s public health goals. Based on a review of workplace breastfeeding legal cases from the last decade, an analysis of all federal and state workplace laws protecting breastfeeding workers including coverage statistics, and interviews with women who faced workplace discrimination, this report documents the anemic legal landscape of breastfeeding rights at work. Discrimination against breastfeeding workers often forces them to stop breastfeeding or lose their jobs, at a devastating cost to their families. Almost three-fourths of breastfeeding discrimination cases studied involved economic loss, and nearly two-thirds ended in job loss. The legal tools to prevent and respond to such discrimination are lacking in both efficacy and scope. The report offers policy solutions to fix the gaps in our patchwork of laws to protect breastfeeding workers.

The Child Care Crisis Is Keeping Women Out of the Workforce

Source: Leila Schochet, Center for American Progress, March 28, 2019

More mothers would increase their earnings and seek new job opportunities if they had greater access to reliable and affordable child care. ….

….This report highlights the relationship between child care and maternal employment and underscores how improving child care access has the potential to boost employment and earnings for working mothers. Based on new analysis of the 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey (ECPP), it demonstrates how families are having difficulty finding child care under the current system and how lack of access to child care may be keeping mothers out of the workforce. The report then presents results from a national poll conducted by the Center for American Progress and GBA Strategies, which asked parents what career decisions they would make if child care were more readily available and affordable. Finally, the report outlines federal policy solutions that are crucial to supporting mothers in the workforce. ….

#MeToo – A Brief Review

Source: Amy J. Traub and Amanda Van Hoose Garofalo, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
(subscription required)

It is clear that the #MeToo movement has spurred many actions from all sides, but we likely will not know its full impact for years to come. The authors of this article review the inception of the #MeToo movement and how things have changed since the movement began.

It has been more than a year since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein broke in The New York Times, which unleashed one of the largest social media-driven movements seen to date: #MeToo. #MeToo did not confine itself to social media; instead, the individuals driving this movement screamed from their social media platforms until real change occurred – not just small changes made to appease some current fad, but truly dramatic changes that have shifted the way employers and the law handle sexual harassment claims….

Related:

California Employers Face Raft of New #MeToo Laws
Source: Benjamin M. Ebbink, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
(subscription required)

The author of this article provides a complete summary of all of the relevant labor and employment legislation recently signed—and vetoed—in California….

What Employers Need to Know About Delaware’s New Anti-Sexual Harassment Law
Source: Zachary R. Davis and Jennifer A. Ermilio, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
(subscription required)

A new law expands the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act to add a section on sexual harassment. In addition, a recent federal court case makes compliance even more important for Delaware employers (as well as those in New Jersey and Pennsylvania). This article provides a brief summary of Delaware’s new anti-harassment law and the case, along with compliance tips for employers…..

Many Changes Lie Ahead for Companies in the #MeToo Era
Source: Charrise L. Alexander, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
(subscription required)

For a very long time, companies dealt with sexual assault and harassment allegations quietly and in backrooms. However, thanks to the turning tide, more companies are reexamining their internal policies, encouraging change in corporate culture, and addressing sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination claims more directly. The author of this article discusses the changes and recommends that a good insurance program be a part of those changes.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap: New Approaches to an Old Problem

Source: Kurt Stanberry, Compensation & Benefits Review, First Published March 14, 2019

from the abstract:
This article addresses new approaches to address a long-standing employment compensation problem—the gender pay gap. Existing approaches, including the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, are more than 50 years old, and have only been marginally successful in resolving this problem. A pay gap based on gender remains a problem today. New approaches include the potential passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act at the federal level and a variety of laws at the state level. Some states have passed pay equity laws that are more successful than the federal law due to the use of the comparable work concept. Additionally, some states have passed laws regulating the asking of salary history questions, as well as the use of non-compete and no-poaching agreements, all of which have a chilling effect on pay equity. The result of the combination of these actions is a probable reduction of the gender pay gap, although eliminating it remains a distant goal.

Stalking In The Workplace

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 6, March 18, 2019
(subscription required)

An employee reports that a co-worker is making her uncomfortable. Despite repeatedly telling him she is not interested in any type of relationship with him, he regularly leaves presents on her desk. When you ask him about his behavior, he says they are just small things and he gives them to her only because he is sure they are something she will like. If you find yourself in a similar situation, your alarm bells should go off. Giving of unwanted presents is a characteristic often found in stalking situations….

Scaling Down Inequality: Rating Scales, Gender Bias, and the Architecture of Evaluation

Source: Lauren A. Rivera, András Tilcsik, American Sociological Review, Early View, March 12, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Quantitative performance ratings are ubiquitous in modern organizations—from businesses to universities—yet there is substantial evidence of bias against women in such ratings. This study examines how gender inequalities in evaluations depend on the design of the tools used to judge merit. Exploiting a quasi-natural experiment at a large North American university, we found that the number of scale points used in faculty teaching evaluations—whether instructors were rated on a scale of 6 versus a scale of 10—significantly affected the size of the gender gap in evaluations in the most male-dominated fields. A survey experiment, which presented all participants with an identical lecture transcript but randomly varied instructor gender and the number of scale points, replicated this finding and suggested that the number of scale points affects the extent to which gender stereotypes of brilliance are expressed in quantitative ratings. These results highlight how seemingly minor technical aspects of performance ratings can have a major effect on the evaluation of men and women. Our findings thus contribute to a growing body of work on organizational practices that reduce workplace inequalities and the sociological literature on how rating systems—rather than being neutral instruments—shape the distribution of rewards in organizations.

#MeToo whistleblowing is upending century-old legal precedent demanding loyalty to the boss

Source: Elizabeth C. Tippett, The Conversation, March 5, 2019

…. While researching a book on the duty of loyalty, I realized that the #MeToo movement isn’t merely a rift in the ordinary order of workplace relationships in the United States. It is part a larger legal and cultural shift that has been in the works for decades.

The duty of loyalty is the idea that you “cannot bite the hand that feeds you and insist on staying for future banquets,” as an American labor arbitrator wrote in 1972.

It’s a bedrock principle that courts apply to employment disputes, even if you didn’t sign a contract promising to keep an employer’s secrets.

The duty of loyalty is why employers can demand that you sign a confidentiality agreement at the start of employment. It’s why workers can’t download their employer’s trade secrets on a thumb drive and use it in their new job. And why companies are able to persuade judges to enforce noncompete agreements. ….

Forced Arbitration Clauses in the #MeToo Era

Source: National Women’s Law Center, Fact Sheet, February 2019

People from all walks of life – from hotel housekeepers to famous actresses – are stepping forward to confront sexual harassment and violence. Yet too often, forced arbitration clauses buried in everyday contracts help companies cover up sexual harassment and violence. These forced arbitration clauses prevent survivors from fighting back. Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of many employment contracts and strip away our right to challenge wrongdoing in court. In private arbitration, companies often choose and pay the arbitrator. There is no judge, no jury, no public record, and no meaningful chance to appeal the arbitrator’s decision – even if the arbitrator gets the facts wrong or ignores the law.

The Gender Disparity in Climbing Local Government’s Ladder

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, January 28, 2019

Women are less likely than men to aspire for and occupy top jobs. They’re also less optimistic about their chances of moving up at all.

…. Late last year, National Research Center, Inc., released data it had collected over the last five years from 20,000 local government workers in more than 40 jurisdictions. Its survey reveals some gender disparities: 39 percent of men rated their opportunities for promotion as excellent or good, compared to only 29 percent of women. And 49 percent of men rated their opportunities for career growth as excellent or good, compared to just 43 percent of women. ….

Uneven Patterns of Inequality: An Audit Analysis of Hiring-Related Practices by Gendered and Classed Contexts

Source: Jill E Yavorsky, Social Forces, Advance Articles, Published: January 18, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite women’s uneven entrances into male-dominated occupations, limited scholarship has examined whether and how employers in different occupational classes unevenly discriminate against women during early hiring practices. This article argues that intersecting gendered and classed features of occupations simultaneously shape hiring-related practices and generate uneven patterns of inequality. Using data derived from comparative white-collar (N = 3,044 résumés) and working-class (N = 3,258 résumés) correspondence audits and content-coded analyses of more than 3,000 job advertisements, the author analyzes early hiring practices among employers across two gendered occupational dimensions: (1) sex composition (male- or female-dominated jobs) and (2) gender stereotyping (masculinized or feminized jobs, based on the attributes that employers emphasize in job advertisements). Broadly, findings suggest a polarization of early sorting mechanisms in which discrimination against female applicants is concentrated in male-dominated and masculinized working-class jobs, whereas discrimination against male applicants at early job-access points is more widespread, occurring in female-dominated and feminized jobs in both white-collar and working-class contexts. Interestingly, discrimination further compounds for male and female applicants—depending on the classed context—when these occupational dimensions align in the same gendered direction (e.g., male-dominated jobs that also have masculinized job advertisements). These findings have implications for the study of gender and work inequality and indicate the importance of a multidimensional approach to hiring-related inequality.