Showing animus toward mothers in the workplace is a form of gender bias, and treating them unequally because they have caregiving responsibilities represents clear evidence of discrimination. Despite this, studies have shown that mothers are often treated differently in the workplace compared with fathers in similar situations. This backlash against pregnant women and mothers continues to put them behind the financial curve in terms of salary and career advancement.
Motherhood discrimination is a real problem
Overwhelming evidence points to bias against females for their roles involving children. Studies indicate that employers consider pregnant women and mothers less reliable than other employees.
For example, research published in the American Journal of Sociology demonstrated that, when all candidates were otherwise equal, mothers who gave a subtle indication that they were parents saw their chances of being offered the job drop by 37 percent. Even if mothers are offered a position, researchers at Cornell University found that starting salaries for mothers is $11,000 less than female candidates without children (and $13,000 less than fathers). Beyond the immediate impact against women with children, there are long-term employment ramifications as well.
When women start families in their prime child-bearing years, 25 to 35, they do not regain employment and salary footing equal to their husbands and male counterparts. The prevalence of bias against mothers depresses short-term salaries and negatively impacts long-term career advancement.
Lawsuits proving bias against mothers
Mothers do have workplace protections and may take advantage of several options when facing bias and discrimination in the workplace. They can file claims with federal and state administrative agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the New York State Division of Human Rights, many of which are resolved through mediation or out-of-court settlements. Others can be litigated in federal or state court, or settled privately without the need for formal proceedings. When facing any kind of discrimination at work, it's important to contact an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your options and protect your rights.