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Black Friday protesters at a Westerly, Rhode Island, Walmart, November 2012.
Walmart's habit of making pregnant women choose between their paychecks and their health by denying them light duty got the retail giant enough bad publicity to spur a change in policy. The new policy leaves Walmart a whole lot of wiggle room to continue putting pregnant women in difficult positions, but it's an improvement. However, Elizabeth Stoker wonders why Walmart isn't giving pregnant women the same moral standing it gives veterans, who the company is making a big push to hire:
There’s no material reason veterans make better candidates for employment at Wal-Mart than any other candidate, especially for the low-skilled labor being performed on the floor of retail shops. And yet Wal-Mart’s commitment to veterans doesn’t seem entirely out of line, as veterans are seen as people with a different moral standing than others: They have contributed something of value, and therefore are valued.

Wal-Mart notably doesn’t categorize pregnant women in that same class of morally valuable person. Benefits and accommodations in work are not offered to pregnant women insofar as they are pregnant, but only insofar as they are disabled in a medical sense by the effects of pregnancy. In other words, pregnancy has simply been subsumed under the preexisting criteria of disability rather than granted its own category of consideration. [...]

After all, pregnant women are at the final analysis socially valuable and morally distinct as a category of person. They ensure the ongoing life of society, and do so at personal cost: sometimes great, sometimes minor. If Wal-Mart is willing to recognize the moral significance of veterans in those terms, why not pregnant women?

The answer to the question is "because there isn't as much public pressure and Walmart doesn't do anything for workers without public pressure." Besides, all it's actually doing for veterans is hiring some of them to crappy Walmart jobs and giving some money to veterans' programs to make itself look good. There's no reason to believe veterans won't be treated as badly as any other Walmart worker.

Whatever your reasoning, though, pregnant women deserve stronger workplace protections than they currently have. It shouldn't take bad publicity to get businesses to offer women light duty when they have a doctor's note saying they need it, and policies offering accommodation shouldn't have as much wiggle room as Walmart's does. For that matter, women shouldn't have to depend on having a decent boss to be able to keep working safely through pregnancy. That should be a matter of the law. Instead, pregnant women now face discrimination and Republicans are predictably standing in the way of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would strengthen protections for all pregnant women, not just the ones whose employers have gotten bad press.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri May 23, 2014 at 07:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  perhaps Wal-Mart needs a "One-Child" policy /nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri May 23, 2014 at 07:56:29 AM PDT

  •  Once a veteran, always a veteran; (0+ / 0-)

    with pregnancy, not so much.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Fri May 23, 2014 at 03:45:46 PM PDT

  •  Just wait until SCOTUS rules FOR Hobby Lobby ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon

    Then these CEOs and other board members can get all up in your bedrooms, sex lives, private lives, charitable giving, memberships, affiliations, book clubs, etc., etc., etc.

  •  Laura, ask Michelle Obama (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    what she thinks about Walmart's obvious neglect of working pregnant women:

    Benefits and accommodations in work are not offered to pregnant women insofar as they are pregnant, but only insofar as they are disabled in a medical sense by the effects of pregnancy. In other words, pregnancy has simply been subsumed under the preexisting criteria of disability rather than granted its own category of consideration. [...]

    After all, pregnant women are at the final analysis socially valuable and morally distinct as a category of person. They ensure the ongoing life of society, and do so at personal cost: sometimes great, sometimes minor. If Wal-Mart is willing to recognize the moral significance of veterans in those terms, why not pregnant women?

    She may not know how shabby these pregnant women are being treated by Walmart.

    "....No Compromise in the Defense of Mother Earth!"

    by Seattle Socialist on Sat May 24, 2014 at 06:35:38 PM PDT

  •  The LGBT community says ouch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kfunk937
    as veterans are seen as people with a different moral standing than others
    •  All the various (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kfunk937, anon004

      other special interest groups out here say ouch.

      The claim to "moral standing" is just another strategem to pit each against all.

      "Our problem is not that the glass is half empty or half full, but that the 1% claims that it is their glass." ---Stolen from a post on Daily Kos

      by jestbill on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:59:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What about those of us that choose (0+ / 0-)

    Not to reproduce? Are we not doing the planet a service by not overburdening it to the point of collapse? Do we really need more than 7 billion people worldwide? Is it moral to raise a child in great hardship and duress?

    •  You already get to live an easy life, (0+ / 0-)

      with disposable income and doing what you want whenever you want to.

      (I didn't have kids until my late thirties, so I remember how easy my life was beforehand.)

      And then you get to feel morally superior about "saving the planet" and to gripe about paying for other people's kids, who, when you are old, and your peers have retired, will be the next generation of professionals, tradespeople and health care workers who support your lifestyle by producing the goods and services you need and supporting you with their payroll taxes.

      Spare me.  Raising a healthy, productive next generation is everyone's responsibility, not just the responsibility of the people who have them.

  •  this is simple (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anon004

    The view of the right is that pregnancy is punishment for sex.  That's why it is not morally on a par with going to war.  

  •  "That should be a matter of the law. Instead, (0+ / 0-)

     pregnant women now face discrimination and Republicans are predictably standing in the way of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would strengthen protections for all pregnant women, not just the ones whose employers have gotten bad press."

    "Pro-life" Republicans strike again!

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