Ohio Discriminates Against Pregnant Mothers: Where are the Mama Grizzlies Now?

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BROOKFIELD ZOO  GRIZZLY BEAR Ursus arctos horribilis

The Ohio Supreme Court handed down a decision today in McFee v. Nursing Care Management of America, Inc. that holds that, "...it's not gender discrimination for employers to require a minimum tenure for employees to take an extended leave for any purpose, pregnancy included." (See this Columbus Dispatch blog post.) What's the problem?

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said [that the ruling punishes] working women for having children. "This is appalling," Copeland said. "We should be having policies in place that allow people to have children and not lose their jobs because they choose to have a child. This illustrates a major hole in Ohio law - there is no protection for women in this type of situation."

As for employers' ability to not support working women:

R.C. Chapter 4112 does not require employers to provide pregnancy/maternity leave when it provides no other leave or to waive or ignore minimum-length-of-service eligibility requirements for obtaining a leave of absence when an employee requests pregnancy/maternity leave.

So this is where I see the separation of women who support women wheat from women who say they support women but don't really support women chaff. Nikki Haley, Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina: Gonna bare those mama grizzly features on behalf of the working mama grizzlies being denied pregnancy leave in Ohio? Two of you are running to be your state's governor. You better believe you need to address this. And I'm completely not kidding. They must be required to answer this situation, or their mama grizzly image becomes exactly what some of us have suspected all along: all image, no substance. As Betsy Reed recently wrote in The Guardian:

Fresh new faces aside, the Republican party's stance on the issues that matter to working mothers is as regressive as it has ever been....It's one thing – and not a small thing – to celebrate the strength of women in politics. But it's supremely cynical to do so, as the GOP year-of-the-woman revellers have, while working to undercut the strength of women in society. Now, will the real Mama Grizzlies please rise up?"

UPDATE: A good post on why this decision impermissibly discriminates against pregnant women from Amie Newman at RH Reality Check. Note this spot-on observation in the comment thread:

There seems to me to be a contradiction between all the angst about women being urged to continue their pregnancies to 'save the life of the innocent fetus' and the dismissal of the actual childbirth itself as a 'life-style option' which shouldn't be allowed to have a negative impact on the bottom line. I don't think I've ever seen a clearer demonstration of how all the concern for the fetus evaporates as soon as its born. 'Buy some bottles and formula, dump that baby in daycare and back to work at once! No UNPAID leave for you!'

 

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