A Waffle House restaurant in Dallas, Texas faces a lawsuit from a former employee who says she was fired because she allegedly had too many children to effectively work at the business as a manager. The decision to fire the employee makes one wonder if she would have been able to keep her position had she aborted her children instead.
Workplace discrimination for pregnant women is a very real issue — with women losing their job or benefits over the years simply because they are carrying an unborn baby. The discrimination prompts some pro-life advocates to worry that some pregnant women may actually consider an abortion out of fear they will lose their jobs.
Another shocking aspect of this particular case is that the young mother in question who lost her position actually doesn’t have that many children.
The supervisor, also female, then, Handy alleges, said that “management believed she would ‘move too slow’ and would not be able to handle the job.” Handy had insisted her pregnancy would not interfere with her job, and that she had a positive record and performance reviews at work–until she told Whiting she was pregnant.
Handy’s suit says after that, “Ms. Whiting began to make up untruths about Plaintiff’s performance in order to justify her termination.” The suit adds that Whiting fired her, commenting, “We don’t need you here at Waffle House anymore.” It also says that after that, Whiting said, “If you need a reference for a job you can give them my number. I have worked with you for five weeks and I know you are dependable and reliable.” The suit says, “The reason(s) was given by Defendants for termination or pretext, as Plaintiff was terminated because of her pregnancy.”
Handy is asking for a jury trial, as well as lost wages and benefits, “all compensatory and exemplary damages for the maximum amount allowed by law, including mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life,” and other damages, court costs and attorney fees.
Discrimination against pregnant women is unfortunately not new and one lawsuit recently made its way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the pregnant worker. The court ultimately ruled in the favor of the employee and pregnant working women in general.
The high court heard a case concerning Peggy Young, a UPS driver who was given unpaid leave after revealing to the company that her doctor advised her not to lift more than 20 pounds because she was pregnant. This is a common instruction doctors give to pregnant women.
Even though Young’s position with UPS rarely required her to lift heavy packages, they refused to excuse her from those duties, or reassign her for light duty jobs; instead they left her in a difficult situation. Young lost her health benefits, pension, disability benefits and her pay for seven months.
She argued that she was a good and honorable employee, and that it would have been easy for the company to accommodate her needs. Young also mentioned that at the time she had a second job where she delivered flowers and had to lift heavier items than she did with UPS.
Young later sued UPS under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), which requires employers to treat pregnant women the same as workers who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”
Young and many pro-life organizations believe that UPS forced her to choose between a healthy pregnancy and making a living. Additionally, in 1978, one of the reasons Congress passed the PDA was to help women who might consider abortion for economic reasons to continue their work and their pregnancies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, over 70% of women site economic hardship as a reason for choosing abortion.