This may be the worst workplace idea we’ve ever heard.
Bailey Stoler worked for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a health coaching and nutritional education school in New York. While there, Stoler claimed that the company treated women drastically differently from men.
How? Stoler said the firm:
- created an evaluation form asking managers to determine each female employee’s “future plans,” including any “maternity plans”
- created a “Maternity Projection” chart that used each female employee’s age, marital status and maternal status to determine how soon the employee was likely to have a child. No male workers were included on the chart
- frequently demoted or fired female employees when they became engaged, married or pregnant or took FMLA leave, and
- usually replaced fired workers with single and childless employees. Worse: Those newly hired staffers had usually been trained by the people who they replaced.
Stoler and two other women eventually filed suit against the company — and were then swiftly fired.
‘Chuck this in the ‘bad idea’ bin
In court, the women claimed FMLA interference and retaliation — and the court sided with them, refusing to dismiss the case.
Hans Murphy, writing on the Barnes & Thornburg Current blog, had this takeaway for HR pros:
The case stands as a useful reminder of the importance of ensuring that management and supervisors are properly educated on the FMLA (as well as pregnancy discrimination laws), including how to handle requests for leave and returns from leave. As for the “maternity projection chart,” this probably should be chucked into the bin labeled “bad ideas.” Nothing good is likely to come from such a document, and creating it would just give a future plaintiff a piece of evidence to use in support of a claim against their employer.
The case is Stotler et al v. Institute for Integrative Nutrition (courtesy of The National Law Review and the Disability Leave Law blog).