Today in misogyny in the U.S.A: National Processing of America, a call center in Kansas City, KS, is being sued for unlawful termination after firing a pregnant employee. April Roller lost her job because the company thought she took too many trips to the bathroom. Yup! Watch out, pregnant ladies of America: if you’d like to bring another life into the world, your job might be on the line.
As is common knowledge (but more in the news lately because of Kate Middleton’s hyperemesis gravidarum), pregnant women are often nauseous, especially in the early part of their pregnancy. Frequent urination, caused by both the increase in blood and fluids in a pregnant woman’s body and the weight of the fetus on her bladder, is also a common symptom. But neither one of these totally normal symptoms that often come and go over the course of a pregnancy should ever be cause for termination of employment.
According to WeTheParty:
On another occasion, defendant’s manager told plaintiff that defendant did not ‘pay [her] to pee,’ objecting to plaintiff’s necessity to use the bathroom when plaintiff experienced nausea or dizziness due to her pregnancy conditions. Defendant’s manager claimed to plaintiff it was not ‘fair to other employees’ for plaintiff to take excessive bathroom breaks. When plaintiff complained about being told that defendant did not ‘pay [her] to pee,’ defendant characterized plaintiff’s need to take bathroom breaks due to the conditions of her pregnancy as being ‘constantly out of her desk.
Roller was GIVEN A PERSONAL TRASHCAN to vomit into in order to limit her trips to the bathroom. I’m sitting here in disbelief at that particular fact. Does anyone else find that cruel and unusual (not to mention demeaning?) And, of course, having a pregnant lady vomit while you’re trying to do your job had to have been disgusting and awkward for her coworkers. Roller was also reprimanded for wearing special shoes to accomodate her swelling feet, which is just ridiculous and unfair—do call centers have specific footwear rules I don’t know about? I mean, come on. What was she supposed to do? Quit her job, lose her income and go be barefoot and pregnant in a kitchen?
I do understand that companies need to remain productive, but it’s clear the treatment Roller received at her former employer was highly insensitive, prejudiced, and ignorant. The way that work culture in this country is set up makes it incredibly difficult for working moms to “have it all” (whatever that means!); It’s hard enough for a woman in America to make a living and be a mother without companies like this one treating them disrespectfully. This kind of institutional misogyny needs to stop, especially considering that women in America work and many of them need to continue doing so in order to provide for themselves and their families. That’s life, not something that needs to be accommodated.
We wrote about whether or not pregnancy should be covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act back in January, but readers were split in their opinions. I can see the value in legislation that provides special consideration for pregnant women, but I think it’s more important that our society move towards an idea of pregnancy and birth as normal physiological events that don’t need special consideration: just respect, support, and understanding. I don’t know how exactly we as a country might do that, but it certainly won’t be with the help of companies like National Processing of America.
It’s pretty obvious what I think about this situation, but what about you? Do you think this company was justified in firing April Roller or are is this a case of pregnancy discrimination?