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Post-Baby Discrimination

Much of the conversation regarding discrimination against women in the workplace centers around pregnancy discrimination.  But a recent lawsuit brings to light discrimination against female workers after they give birth.

Nikki Columbus, a former editor at Parkett magazine, has sued MoMA PS1 on the grounds of caregiver and gender discrimination because the museum rescinded their job offer to her once they discovered she had had a baby between when they offered her the job and when she was supposed to begin working.

Ms. Columbus’s attorney explains: “This is a blatant example of the discrimination women face in the workplace.  Protecting pregnant workers from discrimination matters little if employers can turn around and fire (or refuse to hire) women once they give birth. Just like sexual harassment, this type of discrimination prevents women’s advancement in the workplace and keeps women at an unequal position in the workforce.”

After Ms. Columbus received the job offer from MoMA PS1, she made arrangements with the museum to transition out of her role at Parkett and requested that she be able to work from home for a few weeks, since she had just given birth to her child.  Her contact at the museum asked, “Why didn’t you tell me this two months ago?” A few days later, the museum wrote to Ms. Columbus and stated that they had not been able to meet her requested terms; when Ms. Columbus stated that she still wanted the job, she was told that her contact indicated that she “would not be able to perform the job as it was structured” and the offer was “no longer active.”

The complaint alleges: “Nothing about the position changed.  Nothing about Ms. Columbus’s qualifications for the job changed.  The only thing that changed was [MoMA PS1’s] awareness of Ms. Columbus’s new baby.”