A federal court has blocked a Maine woman from suing her employer for sex discrimination after she claimed she was denied a promotion because of her childcare responsibilities for her four children including 6-year-old triplets.
Laurie Chadwick complained that Wellpoint Inc. gave a promotion to another less qualified female employee who had two children of her own. In explaining the denial, a Wellpoint manager told Chadwick “you’re going to school, you have the kids, and you just have a lot on your plate right now,” and that she and other supervisors would feel “overwhelmed” in such circumstances.
U.S. District Court Justice David Brock Hornby wrote that Chadwick had no evidence that the decision was gender-based as required by federal law:
“Federal law affords no protection against discrimination if it is based solely upon young children or the number of young children. The plaintiff can prevail only if she can show that her employer used sex-based stereotyping about a mother’s child-raising obligations for very young children — as contrasted with the child-raising obligations of males with very young children — to deny her this promotion.”
Hornby said the statement “you’re going to school, you have the kids, and you just have a lot on your plate right now” reflects discrimination against a caregiver; but he rejected the claim that it was discrimination based upon sex.