A bill sparked by a Seattle woman’s allegations of pregnancy discrimination at Google has passed the Washington House and Senate with broad bipartisan support and is slated to be signed into law.
Senate Bill 6034 would update the Washington Law Against Discrimination to give a pregnant woman, or new mother, one year instead of six months to file a complaint with the Washington Human Rights Council.
“It takes nine months or more to have a baby, but right now, expectant mothers only have six months to file a discrimination complaint,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, in a statement. “That doesn’t make sense.”
Former Google employee Chelsey Glasson resigned at the end of her maternity leave after posting a memo on an internal message board, titled “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why,” that was widely read both inside and outside the company.
According to the complaint filed with the state human rights council and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the University of Washington graduate claims she lost her career trajectory at Google when she stood up for a pregnant coworker, then suffered retaliation and discrimination herself when she became pregnant.
“People need to know that pregnancy discrimination is a very real thing that families continue to experience,” Glasson said Thursday morning.
Glasson, who testified in support of Keiser’s legislation, started as a Level 3 user experience (UX) researcher at Google in 2013 and over the next few years was rated “superb” and promoted several times, the complaint says.
When she became a manager, she became worried that a director was trying to “manage” a pregnant employee off the team. She took her concerns to Human Resources, and the director about whom she’d complained began a campaign of retaliation that included poor performance ratings and denial of leadership opportunities, the complaint alleges.
Glasson said that during her second pregnancy, her new director and manager told her they were concerned her upcoming maternity leave would “stress the team” and “rock the boat,” and so she would not be taking on management responsibilities until after her return.
According to Keiser, studies show that mothers are half as likely to be called back for interviews as non-mothers, and mothers who are hired are likely to be offered an average of $11,000 less per year in salary.
Glasson said the bill, which passed its final hurdle Wednesday with a vote of 95-1 in the House, will be helpful to others in her situation.
“What I’ve learned from my experience,” she said, “is that when pregnancy discrimination does happen, it’s incredibly difficult to fight.”