I overheard a small law firm owner saying he will never hire women because the last female attorney he hired ended up being pregnant, and left the firm immediately after her maternity leave was over. How is this kind of discrimination still going on? How could we address this? One thing I can think of is mandatory parental leave regardless of gender, but I doubt it’ll ever happen in the US.

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Small firm owner here - I heard this when I was a young associate in the late 90s. I have three daughters. I have made it expressly clear to anyone who I hire that there is no conflict between being a parent or being a lawyer. And that we will all work together to make sure that you are not put in the position to make that choice. Again, I have three daughters and at least one of them will be an attorney one day and I would hate for them to not grow to their full potential because of some backward, last century thinking.

likeupliftingsmart

Stumbled here accidentally - I think I went back in time to 4Chan in 2014.

likefunny

Let’s unpack this issue before we start demonizing people:

A small law firm doesn’t have the financial muscle or Jones Day or the like. That associate cost that owner a ton of money and opportunity cost. Who know how that person’s business suffered.

While this falls under the strict definition of discrimination, it’s not fueled by animosity towards a particular group for its own sake. It’s just economics.

I am not sure how to work on this problem but I know the standard social justice warrior outrage is not helpful.

likefunnysmarthelpful

If you can’t afford to run a business without being a discriminatory employer, you can’t afford to run a business. It’s also “economical” not to comply with ADA requirement but that’s not an excuse to discriminate.

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People who own smaller companies will have that concern until there’s legislation taking the cost of these issues away from them.

likesmart

I personally know zero men who quit their job after their kid was born.

I know many women who did.

I can understand the concern of OP's hypothetical firm owner even if I don't agree with his conclusion.

likesmart

It’s not like women are paid less than men and have fewer promotion opportunities that lead to meaningful increases in compensation or anything— wonder why the women do all the leaving. 🙄

likesmart

I was told in an interview that the woman I was replacing was on the “mommy track” and they wanted “someone that was serious about the job.” I was, at the time, 5-6 years away from being ready for children but I pretty much ended the interview right there. And I declined an offer immediately upon receiving it.

likeuplifting

Idk I love my job, I’m a woman but I want to work and have kids. I prefer not being financially dependent on a significant other ever. But perhaps, that’s just a product of the experiences I had growing up..

I said this on the post in the Women in Law bowl. But I see hiring a mom as a bonus. I'm a mom, and it should be its own resume section.

People leave firms for lots of reasons. Deciding that suddenly slaving away in front of a computer all day is less important than seeing your child is a d@mn good reason to quit.

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This is definitely in the minds of how smaller business heads consider hiring young women. Not right but it’s true. I think universal leave would help eventually. Also all of us taking more time off not just new moms would help. Like take a month long personal time or longer medical or mental or caregiver time by the assistant or office manager or partner.

likesmart

I don’t condone this behavior AT ALL but it will only end when all the old white men die. In the meantime, let’s see if you feel differently when it’s your pocketbook on the line.

likesmart

Grammar corrections on social media are basically a white flag ☠

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When I was in big law I saw this happen. Talented income partner went on maternity leave and never made equity when she came back. She was later forced out. It could not have been because of performance issues (brilliant lawyer), but she didn’t have any book of business. I still think the maternity leave thing might have been a cause of why she was sort of marginalized. Though I was an associate at the time and obviously didn’t have any inside knowledge.

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And to follow up: there are a million reasons people can force you out out by criticizing your work, lack of clients, etc. Any kind of discrimination case is extremely hard to prove. The vast majority of such lawsuits go nowhere.

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Also in terms of "how is this still going in" you should name the person/ firm. So women who are applying have this information to use appropriately

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OP doesn’t need to put herself out on a limb and risk a defamation lawsuit.

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Hard to see why any woman wouldn’t want to go back to that workplace 🙄 maybe he should take a step back and figure out WHY she didn’t come back.

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Then she should be straightforward about why she left.

If she's telling him she left because of the baby, it's only reasonable for him to take her at her word.

And then everyone clapped

likefunny

I wouldn’t create policy over the rantings of one miserable person. I have small firm and 3 of my associates got pregnant right away. We were happy for them and paid them generously with salary continuation. Two came back part time with moms hours that they chose. When one of them (as an accommodated mom ) started complaining about how woman were treated unfairly in the workforce, I had to point out the deal she has that no one else had in the office. She agreed when it was pointed out to her. I would do it again.

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This bowl is full of associate-level bleating about how the world SHOULD be. Guess what ... it isn't.

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I'm a small firm owner, and gave birth to two kids @ 20 years ago while working for a small firm - and I'd like to reiterate that it is not standard in all small firms. I think it may sometimes look/be a little different when working for a very small firm (1-5 lawyers), but in my experience both personally and professionally is that smart small firms value all associates and the cost of maternity leave is and should be just the cost of doing business.

And - yeah - I think the overheard conversation is completely bigoted and discriminatory.

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Do you offer paternity leave to your associates who become new fathers?

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Here's a wrench to throw in the mix - how would he had felt if she had the baby and kept working? Even worked from home with the baby....and got all of her work done in a competent and timely fashion? What then?

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It shouldn’t be complicated it may be hard for small firms to provide paid sick, maternity leave etc. compared to bigger firms. Of course said owner cannot discriminate in his hiring practices. The bottom line is do we as a society agree to contribute to this cause so everyone can benefit? I would agree. Other advanced countries have this in place. We don’t because we believe in individual freedoms. Your kid your problem. Until our society changes only big firms can provide these benefits.

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This is not surprising. We can start addressing it when we realize it’s still going on.

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I had a partner say that to me an interview, and it’s a commonly held sentiment.

In any event that associates conduct was entirely unprofessional. if she was on paid maternity leave I’d file a bar complaint.

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Huh- file a bar complaint bc a new mother decided to stay home instead of returning after leave? Sooooo wrong !

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In Europe there’s a greater move towards shared parental leave, which either parent can take, precisely for this reason.

In some countries (Sweden I believe) paternity pay is even mandatory for this reason

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