Fighting pregnancy discrimination shouldn’t be this hard

Each night time after a protracted day of labor, I put my two younger youngsters to mattress and sit down at my kitchen desk to deal with what seems like a 3rd full-time job: pursuing a declare of pregnancy discrimination towards my former employer. I spend hours writing responses to difficult discovery questions, combing by way of numerous previous textual content messages, and gathering hundreds of pages of emails. I’ll use most of my trip time this 12 months being deposed by attorneys, interviewed by psychiatrists, and showing in court docket. 

I wouldn’t want my scenario on anybody, however I hold combating as a result of I do know there are such a lot of girls who aren’t even in a position to start this battle.

Federal pregnancy discrimination lawsuits are on the rise throughout Covid-19—jumping 16% in 2020, at the same time as more than two million women have left the workforce. As troubling as these new statistics are, they solely inform a part of the story; the true toll of pregnancy discrimination has all the time been hidden. For each lady who information a lawsuit on the state or federal degree, there are hundreds extra struggling in silence—afraid of retaliation, dropping their immigration standing, or ruining their careers. Even for girls like me, who’ve the safety and the sources to battle this battle, it’s a monumental, all-consuming effort. 

I’m in my third year of fighting the pregnancy discrimination that I skilled throughout my time as a person researcher at Google, and generally it seems like there’s no finish in sight. 

For years after Google employed me in 2013, I loved solely glowing efficiency critiques, common pay will increase, and constructive relationships with my colleagues and managers. However in 2019— following months of persistent discrimination and harassment in response to my second pregnancy—I sought authorized steerage and determined to stop Google throughout my maternity depart quite than accepting a small severance cost and signing a non-disclosure settlement. I mentioned goodbye to my dream profession at what I believed was essentially the most moral tech firm on the planet. (Editor’s Word: Quick Firm beforehand reported on Glasson’s experiences at Google. Google declined to remark.)  

After leaving Google, I dove into analysis about pregnancy discrimination to strive to determine my choices. I ended up submitting a declare with the Equal Employment Alternative Fee (EEOC) and so they ultimately opened an investigation. However after months glided by with no significant replace from the EEOC, I made a decision to pursue a lawsuit, regardless that loads of attorneys suggested me to go away it alone. “Google will eat you alive,” one mentioned. I lastly discovered a lawyer prepared to take my case on contingency and I filed a state lawsuit towards Google in July 2020

Through the treasured few hours of the day after I’m not working or caring for my youngsters, I’m mired within the particulars of my authorized battle. And, in contrast to Google, I don’t have a full workers engaged on my case. My complete life has been opened up for evaluation and scrutiny: Google has subpoenaed employment data from my subsequent jobs and, as a result of I’m asking for emotional damages, in addition they get entry to a few of the most intimate particulars of my life, like my medical data. 

My daughter turned two yesterday—on Worldwide Girls’s Day—and day-after-day I battle with guilt on the methods my lawsuit has prevented me from being totally current for her throughout her first years of life.

Whereas I’m grateful I discovered a lawyer on contingency after many turned down my case, contingency doesn’t imply free. As a plaintiff I’m nonetheless chargeable for many administrative prices related to depositions, filings, and fascinating knowledgeable witnesses. This can finally add as much as tens of hundreds of {dollars} over the course of my lawsuit. 

I’m a white, educated, cisgender lady in a double-income marriage, and I’m barely hanging on. I expertise crippling anxiousness each day, and a full night time of sleep is a rarity nowadays. I can’t think about what girls in much less privileged circumstances are up towards. What number of usually are not taking authorized motion as a result of the sacrifices concerned are just too nice?

It doesn’t must be this means. Our nation wants financially accessible paths to combating pregnancy discrimination that maintain employers accountable whereas defending the identities of ladies who expertise discrimination. That is alleged to be what the EEOC does, however the group is damaged. Trump-era policies have hollowed out the EEOC’s workforce and mandate, leading to document low workers numbers and new insurance policies that favor employers, discourage investigations, and encourage victims to just accept decrease settlements. Regardless of a rise in claims, the fee’s funding has remained mostly flat for two decades, creating a backlog of over 40,000 cases and almost half of EEOC staff reporting they don’t have the sources to do their jobs. 

And most often, girls have only six months from the date of discrimination to file a complaint. If you’re within the midst of pregnancy or caring for a new child, that’s an impossibly brief period of time —particularly throughout COVID-19. Girls ought to have two full years to report pregnancy discrimination to the EEOC.

It’s not simply girls who stand to lose as pregnancy discrimination proliferates. In accordance to a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, infants born to moms who skilled perceived pregnancy discrimination of their workplaces usually tend to have decrease delivery weights, decrease gestational ages, and an elevated variety of physician visits in infancy. 

We desperately want complete EEOC reform as a method to fight pregnancy discrimination in this nation. Girls with out the sources to retain attorneys, or the bandwidth (or curiosity) in submitting public-facing lawsuits, want and deserve pathways to justice. With out them, firms will proceed to discriminate with little menace of recourse.

Regardless of the challenges I do know I’ll face forward, I’m grateful to nonetheless be employed in tech and to be able to assist different girls. Each week, girls search me out for steerage as they ponder starting their very own battle towards pregnancy discrimination. Our conversations all the time begin the identical: It shouldn’t be this hard.

Chelsey Glasson is a workers person researcher, mom of two, and an advocate for working moms.