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The same day Kristin and I were up on The Hill talking to federal law makers and their staff about the discrimination Kiki experienced because she was a single mother, Cooper Monroe was speaking on the Radio in PA about the need to pass the law to protect mothers that has been stuck in committee for the last 6 years. While Federal law makers were having a hard time believing that employers routinely ask women about their marital and familial status, Cooper was on a radio show talking to small business owners in PA that never want to hire a mother again. The callers insisted the PA law to protect mothers should not be passed because mothers with children are a hiring risk and they need to be able to ask so that they are able to avoid hiring them.

Why do so many people think mothers are protected?

Title Vll prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin” (note-The words “marital or familial” status do NOT appear in this law.)

While some employers know that asking a job candidate about marital and familial status may be sex discrimination under Title VII, many employers do not. Employers need clearer guidance about what can be asked in job interviews and job candidates need clearer guidance about what their employment rights are.

Bottom line, the questions may be technically illegal but practically they are asked all the time. Consider the following -

1. How would the average interviewee know what the employer asked other applicants for a job? (Under title VII an employer can't ask women and not men about marital and familial status.)

2. How many job applicants would even know that the employer has restrictions on what can be asked in her job interview?

3. And even with knowledge of 1 & 2, how practical is it for someone to in fact pursue their rights?

In Kiki’s case she filed a complaint with the EEOC and they told her they had no jurisdiction in the matter as those two categories are not in the federal law so there was nothing they could enforce. This helps explain why 22 states have clarified that it is illegal to ask potential employees their marital status.

I just keep on returning to the statistic that single mothers earn 34-44% less than men in equivalent jobs. It is so hard being a single parent without adding discrimination in hiring. It is a cruel reality that our society blindly undercuts mother's efforts to care for their families. We must find a way to correct this.

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