Maternal Profiling (a subset of Family Responsibilities Discrimination, “FRD”), is employment discrimination against a woman who has, or will have, children. Firing a newly pregnant employee. Interview questions designed to elicit details about child-care arrangements. Just in time for Mother’s Day, here are some key points for employers about this type of workplace discrimination.
Profiles of Maternal Profiling
In late April 2008, ABC News aired a piece on World News With Charles Gibson about Maternal Profiling. As a follow-up to the piece, the ABCNews website posted an article called, Are You a Victim of Maternal Profiling, featuring women from Pennsylvania who had personally experienced this type of discrimination.
One woman believed that she was having trouble landing a new job because she was the mother of three. She indicated that interviewers would often ask her outright whether she had any children. She said that one employer told her that it would cost too much in health care.
Can He Ask That?
Can employers ask candidates whether they have children, or whether they have adequate child-care arrangements? The answer is “yes,” much to the surprise of many, including many of my HR clients. Some states do have laws that prohibit these questions from being asked during job interviews. But neither Delaware nor Pennsylvania are included among them. So the short answer is, Yes, employers may lawfully ask job candidates about their “family status,” including questions about whether or not the applicant has children, is married, etc.
Like Mom Always Said, “Just because your friends jump off a cliff doesn’t mean you have to!”
We teach a lot of seminars. We counsel a lot of employers. We answer a lot of questions. And I can say with great certainty that we would never, ever, ever, advise our clients to ask something as foolish as “Are you planning to have children?” to anyone, and certainly not to a potential or current employee!
Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s smart, right? No good can come of these questions. So don’t ask them. Just don’t do it.