Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch may hold disturbing views on pregnancy discrimination that would be bad for women—and bad for business too.
A former student of Judge Gorsuch alleged that he told a class that not only could potential employers ask female interviewees about their pregnancy and family plans, but that they must do so to protect their own interests.
As the National Women’s Law Center pointed out, if he made this statement, it would show that he either does not understand the law on pregnancy and caregiver discrimination or that he disagrees with it.
The Supreme Court has long held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevent companies from discriminating against women because they are, or might become, pregnant. Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission instructs companies to steer clear from asking prospective employees about family planning issues.
As the NWLC points out, if Judge Gorsuch believes that the law should “protect” companies from women who might become pregnant, as a Supreme Court justice he would be a position to change the law to make it lawful for companies to discriminate against pregnant women.
Not only would this be bad law, it would, ironically, be bad for business. As legendary businessman Norm Brodsky wrote in Inc. Magazine, pregnancy is just one type of disruption that a company might face in its workforce. He notes “whenever your business is disrupted by a major event in the life of an employee―such as the birth of a child―don’t make the mistake of treating it as a problem and a headache. Instead, recognize it as a chance for the company to shine” by creating culture where the company adapts and supports employees who need coverage while adjusting to a new life change.
If Judge Gorsuch thinks that the law should further tip that balance in favor of companies and against families, he’s wrong on the law and wrong on what is good for business.
Tom Spiggle is author of the book “You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired: Protecting Mothers, Fathers, and Other Caregivers in the Workplace.” He is founder of the Spiggle Law Firm, which has offices in Arlington, Va., Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., where he focuses on workplace law helping protect the rights of clients facing sexual harassment in the workplace and wrongful termination. To learn more, visit: https://www.spigglelaw.com.