Wednesday, March 31, 2010
“Mommy tracking” is something that few talk about but many still experience in the workplace. Mommy tracking, if you are not familiar with the term, is the polite description for discriminating against women who have full-time careers but also have families. What makes this discrimination especially insidious is the glass ceiling it assists in enforcing on working women. For some, mommy tracking basically says, “We’ll offer you benefits and flexibility up to a certain point, but don’t expect any promotions or new opportunities.”
The dirty secret of mommy tracking might be blown wide open as one of the biggest of such cases rocked the financial and legal world last week. Legendary global investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street icon since the late 1800s, was hit with a discrimination lawsuit from a former female employee who claims that the company treats working moms like “second-class citizens.”
A former employee of Goldman Sachs University, the company’s in-depth educational and training program, Charlotte Hanna, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan last Wednesday. The lawsuit alleges that Hanna faced discrimination after having her first child in 2005 and was wrongfully terminated during maternity leave after she had her second child in 2009. As a former vice president of GSU, Hanna opted for a part-time schedule to accommodate her family obligations. Goldman Sachs offered part-time tracking to women specifically to address the balance of work and family.
Hanna was naturally surprised when she was fired in 2009 and to find her position was being eliminated. Hanna was shocked even more so when she learned that an alleged 75% of fellow employees whose jobs were terminated at the same time consisted of other women who were fired while on maternity leave. Lawyers for Charlotte Hanna consider this to be a clear message of how Goldman Sachs feels about mothers as employees.
While Goldman Sachs has issued no response to the lawsuit, and no trial date has been set, “mommy tracking” has officially become a water cooler topic and is no longer a corporate secret.