Recent Bloomberg ruling a blow for working moms

Here and Now

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In a recent court ruling in favor of the financial media firm Bloomberg LP, New York Judge Loretta Preska said the “the law does not mandate work-life balance.” The case had been brought by the U.S. Government on behalf of 65 women who said the company had discriminated against them in pay and promotions after they took maternity leave.

Judge Preska ruled against the women, saying there was no evidence of any systematic discrimination at the company. In her 64 page opinion, Judge Preska admitted that women who ask for flexibility in their schedules were, “likely at a disadvantage in a demanding culture like Bloomberg’s.” But, the Judge said, that was also true for men who asked for schedule flexibility.

“In the free-market system we embrace,” wrote Judge Preska, “if you make choices that preference your family over your work, that has consequences in a company like Bloomberg,” which explicitly expects all-out dedication.

The ruling has renewed the debate over work-life balance, and Stephanie Coontz, co-chair the Council on Contemporary Families, says businesses that don’t have family-friendly policies will see long-term costs.

“What happens with these high-pressure financial firms, where workers are working these 80-100-hour weeks … they actually lose all of their commitment to their employer,” Coontz said. “At a certain point, when people are worked that way and it’s just a question of getting as much out of them, you’re in the long-run hurting your ability to recruit and retain employees who put the employer’s interests ahead.”

“The people who have better family-friendly work policies are more loyal to the company, they’re more willing to recruit other workers and they’re less willing to line their own pockets at the expense [of the company],” Coontz added.


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