Yes, Mothers of Disabled Children Can Work Full-Time Says EEOC Suit
The Timken Company of Canton, Ohio, must pay $120,000 and “provide other relief” to settle a gender and discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In July 2007, Timken denied a full-time position to part-time employee Carmen Halloran, who worked at the company’s Randleman, N.C. facility. According to the EEOC, the company claimed that Halloran, who is the mother of a child with disabilities, would not be able to work full-time and take care of her child.
Says a news release from the EEOC (with my emphases in boldface):
At the time she applied for the full-time position, Halloran had worked at the Randleman facility as a part-time process associate for four years. The EEOC alleged that the company refused to hire Halloran because one or more managers for the company believed that Halloran, who is the mother of a disabled child, would be unable to work full time and care for her disabled child. The EEOC alleged that although Timken employed men who were the fathers of disabled children, Timken failed to hire Halloran into the full-time position based on an unfounded gender stereotype that the mother of a disabled child would necessarily be the primary caregiver for the child and therefore would not be a reliable employee.
In addition to paying $120,000 in settlement of this action, Timken must take other actions set forth in the two-year consent decree resolving the case, including providing anti-discrimination training to the managers, supervisors, and employees of the company’s Randleman facility. Further, the company must post a notice at its Randleman facility concerning employees’ rights under federal anti-discrimination laws and must provide periodic reports to the EEOC on its hiring practices.
Timken employees about 25,000 employees world-wide and manufactures precision ball bearings and other friction management and power transmission products.
The EEOC’s ruling is significant for women who — including myself — are working mothers of children with disabilities. As a recent University of Pennsylvania study has found, raising an autistic child leads to “substantial underemployment and lost income among mothers” and families in general. Using data from the U.S. government’s Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, the researchers found that the mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders earned about $6,300 less annually than mothers of kids with other health conditions and $11,540 less than mothers whose kids were healthy.
Further, families with autistic children earn an estimated $11,900 less a year (that is, 20% less) than families with children with other chronic health problems and $17,640 less (that is, 27% less) than families with healthy kids.
The details of Carmen Halloran’s suit make you wonder, how many other mothers of disabled children have not been able to work because prospective employers chose not to hire them for the reasons that Timken denied Halloran a full-time job?
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