- A former senior director for digital publisher Dotdash claims the company's treatment of women is "misogynistic" and that the company has a "bro culture" in which men engage in "mansplaining" and refer to female professionals as "girls" (Keller v. About, Inc., dba Dotdash, No. 21-cv-00228 (S.D.N.Y., Jan. 11, 2021)).
- The plaintiff was forced to leave the company because she was subjected to pregnancy discrimination, she alleged in her complaint. Dotdash reduced her responsibilities after she announced her first pregnancy and demoted her after she announced her second pregnancy, according to the lawsuit. A male executive allegedly told her "it would be 'impractical' for [her] to continue her existing job duties 'given her upcoming mat[ernity] leave.'" Dotdash claimed the reassignment after the second pregnancy was part of a larger reorganization, according to the worker's lawsuit.
- Dotdash also engaged in pay discrimination, the complaint said, paying the plaintiff less than men and women without children working in similar roles. Though she flagged the disparities multiple times, Dotdash did not correct her salary, claiming it was "out of chips." Dotdash did not respond to a request for a comment by press time.
Combating pregnancy discrimination is one enforcement priority for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The federal agency reported it resolved nearly 3,000 charges alleging pregnancy discrimination in fiscal year 2019.
Employees who are pregnant and able to continue performing their jobs must be permitted to do so. Employers must avoid benevolent discrimination when interacting with expecting workers, one attorney previously told HR Dive. While employers may think they're doing something thoughtful for a worker by shielding her from a certain task, such as lifting heavy boxes, they may inadvertently take part in discrimination. An employer is allowed to reassign a pregnant worker based on concerns about her health, or the health of her unborn child, only if it can establish that non-pregnancy or non-fertility is a bona fide occupational qualification. "In very few, if any, situations will an employer be able to establish this defense," the EEOC has said.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and mandates that employers must treat pregnant employees the same as anyone else. The EEOC said it views discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions as an unlawful form of sex discrimination which means that an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote or take any other adverse action against an employee because of pregnancy.
HR should ensure that managers and supervisors are trained on the requirements of applicable laws and taught when to escalate requests to HR, experts previously told HR Dive.