It is a club no one wants to join and yet membership is bursting at the seams.
The price of admission is steep: it requires a woman to lose her job while she is either pregnant or on maternity leave. And, one in two women in Australia qualify.
Channel 7 newsreader Talitha Cummins has brought the shameful subject of pregnancy discrimination back into the public eye this year.
Nine weeks after Cummins’ son was born, she was called and informed she was no longer under contract. She had expected to return to her weekend newsreading role but was offered a temporary contract for a weekday 5am slot instead that would require her to be in by 3am each day.
Cummins is taking on her former employer for unfair dismissal.
“I have never wanted any bad blood with my former employer, and I have tried to settle this matter in a manner that recognizes my rights under the law, unfortunately we have not been able to reach anything like a reasonable settlement.
“The issue at stake is an important one, not only for me but for many women, as I’ve observed in practice,” she explained. “Many aren’t in a position to defend their workplace rights. I’m in the fortunate position where I can. I also have a child now and I feel it’s important to set an example for him about respect for women in the workplace.”
Her story and experience has resonated with far too many women who know, all too well, the financial, personal and emotional ignominy of being cast aside by an employer upon falling pregnant or giving birth.
For Tracey Spicer and KISS FM host Katie ‘Monty’ Dimond it more than resonates: it enrages. Cummins’ treatment reinforces that, despite several years passing by, the discrimination they both faced remains rife in workplaces.
Five years ago, when she was in the early stages of her first pregnancy, Monty, who was co-hosting a Sydney breakfast radio program, told her bosses her news. Legally she wasn’t obliged to but in the spirit of honesty she divulged why she was unwell: she told her bosses before she told her family.