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When Motherhood Comes Up In The Job Interview

When you go on an interview, employers can't ask you about your race or religion.  But to the surprise of many, employers can ask about marital and familial status - and they do.   Kiki Peppard learned all about the impact of these questions when, after moving to Pennsylvania over 15 years ago, 19 employers in a row asked whether she was married and had children.  After learning she was a single mother, they all terminated the interviews.

Research shows that mothers, including single mothers, face discrimination and negative stereotyping when they look for employment.  While these questions seem close to sex discrimination, interviewers are not prohibited from asking them so long as they ask both men and women.

The information that potential employers learn about an interview's familial status often becomes a factor in whether or not they hire a candidate - even though that information has nothing to do with how qualified a person is for the job.  The Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Committee has testified that some Pennsylvania employers do base their hiring decisions, wage rates, and even terminations on marital and familial status.

In Pennsylvania, HB 2245 would amend the Human Relations Act to prohibit this type of discrimination by making it illegal to ask the following questions:
  • Are you married? 
  • Do you have children?  
If you feel that the Human Relations Act should be amended, please contact your legislators today.  And if you want to learn more, watch Kiki Peppard talk about maternal profiling on Good Morning America August 21!

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