Is a single pregnant woman entitled to maternity leave?

When a supervisor bases human relations decisions on his own personal philosophies and beliefs instead of accepted policy and practice, personnel problems and court cases are almost sure to erupt.

03/01/1998


When a supervisor bases human relations decisions on his own personal philosophies and beliefs instead of accepted policy and practice, personnel problems and court cases are almost sure to erupt.

Maintenance Foreman Lawton Helmsley was an old-line supervisor whose belief in morality, the flag, and the family was unshakable. These beliefs were all well and good. Helmsley was as conscientious and hard working as anyone in the plant. But even purity of mind and purpose can be carried to unrealistic extremes.

The company's maternity leave policy stated that "a leave of absence be granted to pregnant employees." When Carol Janus, an unmarried clerical worker, put in for leave under this clause, Helmsley denied her request. When she persisted, he fired her.

Janus wasted no time in protesting her dismissal to Helmsley's boss, Plant Engineer Fred Penney.

Question : In Penney's shoes, what action would you take?

Penney's response: Penney summoned Helmsley to his office. "I have two questions for you, Lawton: What year is this?"

The supervisor frowned anxiously. "Uh, I don't understand."

"That's apparent. I'm wondering if you think you're living in 1928 instead of 1998. My other question is: Have you ever heard of the Civil Rights Act or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?"

Helmsley squirmed in his seat.

"Let me make this clear, Lawton. Your personal beliefs and opinions are your own business entirely. But when they conflict with the way you treat people and run the department, they become management's business. Not only is your denial of maternity leave to Carol Janus and your mindless dismissal outrageous in this day and age, they are also against the law, which you should know as well as the Pledge of Allegiance, if you're doing your job. Carol deserves an apology, and I'd suggest that you grant her that leave as soon as possible before she hauls this company to court."





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