Topic: Unspeakable
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Old January 13th, 2020, 05:23 PM
Total Noob Total Noob is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 525

I'm going to address the unspeakable; it turns out this issue cuts a lot of ways. I'm sure you know that but may be hesitant about being politically incorrect.

In the space of about an hour today, I saw in mass media three different takes on women in the workplace (specifically the sports workplace) that could be advancing or setting back women's rights by a decade for decades. The topics are important but the implications of policy don't get aired out.

1. On Jan 9, pro golfer Michelle Wie announced she was due to give birth at some point this summer. By this morning, Golf Channel analysts on a panel, including one woman, wondered out loud if the fire was still there for her to be competitive on the tour (at least until she was no longer physically able to play).

I get it that a pro golfer is an independent contractor, but if she was an athlete on a team and someone with the company said that same thing at a staff meeting -- and certainly if those considerations led to adverse action -- that company is getting its heart cut out and shown to it by way of law suit, and would be castigated by the universe, and properly so.

But what about reality? Between the distraction of being pregnant and the inevitable symptoms that are paired with it, an employer has some need to be worried that her daily work is going to be substandard or curtailed, and that will negatively affect everyone involved.

2. A few minutes later, on a different sports channel pre-gaming tonight's college football championship, a woman reporter anxiously told an audience that when she found out her due date conflicted with the (January) championship about 4 years ago, she had labor induced on Dec 11 so she could work the game as she always did, and this was presented by the network as charming and courageous. And there were photos of the now one month old child at the stadium.

I hope and expect the reporter and her doctor agreed that this was not creating any new risk to mother or child, but still, putting football and employment over childbirth and family is a kind of red flag, at least for me.

Now I get it that if I was her employer, I officially for the moment have no votes and that it would probably be illegal to express an opinion on what she does with her life and her baby's life, and certainly illegal to take some kind of adverse action even if I though she was out of line and even though I might also end up liable if something put out of my control goes awry. But it is hard for me not to feel what I feel, and I also wonder if this woman' exuberance is not a bad precedent such that other employers will expect women to confine the time of childbirth to the moment that best suits the company's needs.

3. Serena Williams won a tournament for the first time since having a child in Sept. 2017. I get it that pro tennis is difficult enough, especially if you are 38 much less also recovering from child birth and the miscellaneous other physical problems and stressors that Serena has endured. But should it be illegal for employers to look at this situation and say to themselves that if Serena isn't 100% for 31 months that such-and-such at my company isn't going to be 100% of herself for that long and that if I can't get 100% I can't pay 100% and simultaneously not have to lose sleep over the possibility of being sued into irrelevance?

A lot of these kinds of laws are passed with the best of intentions, including having great aspirations. But sometimes stark reality intervenes in our dreams, and we should be prepared to acknowledge that.
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