Pregnancy is no joking matter; ‘Prego’ is akin to a racial slur — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Pregnancy is no joking matter; ‘Prego’ is akin to a racial slur

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If your supervisors think little jokes about pregnancy and childbirth are nothing but harmless banter, set them straight. Use the following case to remind them that singling out pregnant employees is legally dangerous. That's especially true if such kidding around could be interpreted as questioning the pregnant woman's commitment to the job.

Recent case: At a congratulatory lunch for top performers, Jodi Zisumbo was taken aback when her new boss said, "You're not gonna go and get pregnant now, are you?" As luck would have it, she got pregnant the following month.

Her boss met the news with stony silence. He soon started referring to Zisumbo as "prego," and he began yelling at her about her work. She complained to HR, but it never opened an investigation.

Zisumbo filed a sex- and pregnancy-discrimination claim. A federal appeals court let it go to trial, saying that calling her "prego" was similar to using a racial epithet and that it created a hostile environment. (Zisumbo v. McleodUSA Telecom, No. 04-4119, 10th Cir., 2005)

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