October 22nd, 2012

Newly named Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer made waves when she revealed that she was pregnant shortly after her new job was announced. She said at the time that her new employer was not concerned about her pregnancy and that she planned to take a short maternity leave of only a few weeks and that she would likely work throughout it.

The news that one of the top women in Silicon Valley was pregnant and taking a new job was followed by praise for the progressive attitude at Yahoo! and questions about whether it represented another crack in the glass ceiling. Others were less enthusiastic, pointing out Mayer’s choice to take only a few weeks and work from home during that time. A writer at the Wall Street Journal even worried that her example would give new expectations to HR departments eager to get employees back from leave sooner.

More than those issues, Mayer’s pregnancy has renewed the conversation about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. While her particular circumstance doesn’t seem to be hindering her job prospects, many women in the United States still face discrimination and sometimes lose their jobs when they reveal that they are pregnant.

New legislation has been introduced to Congress to offer more protections for women workers, particularly those in blue collar jobs, but legislative watchers say that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has little chance of becoming law.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that all employees, both in Minnesota and around the country, have a right to take time off to care for their newborn children without risking losing their job.

More information about pregnancy discrimination is available on our employment law website.

Source: Businessweek, “How Relevant Is Marissa Mayer’s Maternity Leave? Not Very,” Jessica Grose, Oct. 18, 2012.

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