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T-Mobile sued for gender discrimination

A former T-Mobile employee is accusing the company of pregnancy discrimination, saying that policies at the call center where she worked made it impossible to keep working there while she was pregnant.

One way in which the phone company discriminates against pregnant or other disabled employees is through a measurement called "adherence" which tracks how much time each employee spends actually on the phone with customers. If employees do not spend enough time on the phone, they can be fired. This means that bathroom breaks outside of the pre-scheduled 15 minute or 30 minute segments can become a fire-able offense.

While this may not be a problem for most employees, those who have a medical need to use the restroom more often than that could end up being fired because of the adherence metric. This isn't just a problem for pregnant employees, either. Those who suffer from diabetes or a bladder condition could also be fired if they must use the bathroom outside of their lunch hour.

Any policy in a workplace that puts a pregnant employee at a disadvantage compared with non-pregnant females or male employees could be considered discriminatory. Even policies that simply create an extra burden or treat a pregnant employee differently may amount to discrimination under federal and state employment laws. Employers who use other excuses to justify this behavior are not off the hook for the effect that a bad policy has on a particular group of workers, whether the group shares a particular medical condition or whether they are all members of an ethnic or religious group.

Source: ABC News, "Pregnant T-Mobile Employee Clocked Out to Use Toilet," Abby Ellin, May 1, 2013

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