[by Barry Weisleder]
There is a disturbing surge in cases of pregnant women being fired by bosses, with the economic crisis cited as the excuse. The Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre, an independent agency funded by the province to provide free legal services to people experiencing discrimination, reports it is now receiving 10 to 15 calls a week on this issue. Nearly 50 years after Ontario enacted the Human Rights Code to prevent such discrimination, some bosses brazenly violate it.
Consuelo Rubio of the OHRLSC told the Toronto Star (April 24), “We actually have an e-mail from one employer saying, ‘Sorry, but with your little bundle, I don’t think we’ll be able to (re)hire you. We want a permanent solution.'” Most firings seem to occur soon after women announce they are pregnant, says Rubio. That puts women’s maternity leave benefits at risk, since to qualify for full benefits they must work 600 hours within the 52 weeks before filing.
This outrageous and illegal conduct extends to mistreatment of injured and disabled workers. The legal centre is investigating the case of a car parts plant in Peterborough, Ont., that laid off 18 unionized employees—all of whom had either claimed disability benefits or were on modified work assignments because of an injury—and hired 18 ‘healthy’ workers.
The truth is, the best remedy for bad bosses and capitalist economic depression is the same—and it isn’t more lawyers.