The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

6 August 2005

Your basic lose/lose scenario

I'm not even sure I can excerpt this, but let's see:

Because of various health issues, April Thompson said she had reason to believe she might never have a child.

When she got pregnant, the joy she wanted to share with her employer quickly turned sour when, she said, her boss demanded that she get an abortion or risk losing her job.

Thompson's attorney, Ed Buckley, said the woman eventually was fired by Piedmont Management Associates, a homeowners association management firm, for refusing to get the abortion.

Thompson recently filed a lawsuit in Fulton County [Georgia] Superior Court against the company and its president, Celia Ebert, on grounds of discrimination and emotional duress. "We believe that the conduct of forcing a woman to get an abortion falls into intentional infliction of emotional distress," Buckley said.

And that's just what it does to the woman.

It gets better, or worse:

Thompson was suffering from endometriosis, and a doctor recommended a hysterectomy to handle the condition, which can lead to severe pain and infertility.

Thompson, 30, sought a second opinion from a fertility doctor and decided on laparoscopy surgery. According to the lawsuit, when Ebert found out Thompson was seeing a fertility doctor, she told her she was "worried that she was trying to get pregnant."

"If you get pregnant, you will have to move because I am not putting up with any babies around here and you also won't have a job," the lawsuit says Ebert told Thompson. "The guys and I do not even hire single mothers because of the problems. I know you have some great delusion that you will be a great mother, but you won't — you can't even take care of your dog."

In December 2004, Thompson's doctor told her laparoscopy surgery did not address her medical condition and recommended the hysterectomy. Thompson said Ebert agreed to give her medical and vacation time for the procedure. On Jan. 24, Thompson went in to schedule her hysterectomy and was told she was pregnant. According to the lawsuit, when Ebert found out, she demanded that Thompson get an abortion.

Let's focus on that line about "The guys and I do not even hire single mothers because of the problems." What was the official response by Ebert's attorney to the lawsuit? You guessed it:

"Piedmont Management is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in its employment practices."

Except, of course, when there might be "problems."

Aldahlia cites this case as "The Crossroads of Conservatism," and asks:

Do you say what the Free Market Fundies say in situations like this? That an employer has a right to demand whatever they want from employees in an "at will" contract?

Or, do you say that business is the end-all, be-all of existence, the Guiding Hand of God, but that fetuses are more important than Adam Smith?

This balancing act would baffle Cirque de Soleil.

Posted at 10:00 AM to Dyssynergy , Life and/or Death

Don't be ridiculous. No one has a right to tell a woman she has to kill her baby to keep her job. I'm not a champion of the babies-first rule of business, where a woman with kid trumps any consideration for the company efficiency and profit, and women with babies can be more than a bit of a job cost in both time and money. But it looks like the company she worked for broke its own rules by firing her. And in any case, unless she held up the building with her own shoulders I don't see how her being pregnant could have interfered with her job all that much. I am keeping in mind that this is just one news article and there might be details that have been kept out to make the story completely sympathetic to the woman.

If you ask me Aldahlia's arguments amount to a straw man or a red herring or whatever the logical term is. Few conservatives are in favor of complete laissez-faire capitalism where the employer is bound by no rules or regulations whatsoever. Her beef isn't with conservatives, it's with liberatarians. As for mental gymnastics and balancing acts, these are the normal things we have to do every day to get on in this "complex, nuanced" society. Gosh. One can be nuanced and vote Republican. Who'd'a thunk it?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 12:04 PM on 6 August 2005

I'm sure there's more to this than we're being told, at least right now.

And I don't think her beef is with either conservatism or with small-l libertarianism, but with Republicans, which has strains of both and tends to suffer some division in the ranks as a result.

Posted by: CGHill at 12:10 PM on 6 August 2005

Is it preferable to have an employer be honest, and say get an abortion or lose your job, or is it preferable to have an employer be dishonest and make up something to fire her for when it becomes clear she is going to carry her baby to term?

Frankly, I think it's better to be able to find out that this company is run by reprehensible scum. This, in fact, is exactly what has happened in this case, bringing much more attention to it than 'terminated for failing to follow proper procedure' would.

Posted by: Chris at 12:19 PM on 6 August 2005

As not all Republicans vote for the same reason or think in lockstep, her beef is still with the wrong sort of people. She also implies that she and others like her have no inner conflicts on matters like this. Well hooray for her; other people just have to muddle on through life with their inferior human perception of things.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 1:14 PM on 6 August 2005

It's despicable and evil that an employer would make that choice. But an attempt to suppress it by law would cause massive collateral damage, without actually suppressing it at all.

Posted by: Matt at 1:57 PM on 6 August 2005

It's not about fetuses or free markets, it's about the fact Ebert is a jackass and nobody with an ounce of personal integrity should be doing business with him.

Okay, so maybe it is about free markets. ;-)

Posted by: McGehee at 9:46 AM on 7 August 2005

Ebert's a she, which may require slight modifications to the term "jackass."

Posted by: CGHill at 9:59 AM on 7 August 2005

"Jackass," like the generic "he," applies regardless of sex -- especially in this instance.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:01 PM on 7 August 2005

I didn't even see this until today. My ears should have been burning.

Posted by: aldahlia at 6:32 PM on 9 August 2005