Women Lawyers: Could This Happen To You?

Scary.  Just as we are hearing about the battle between Apple and the Feds over reaching behind a telephone password for reasons of national security, we have a possible techy invasion a lot closer to home.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, companies (law firms and other law employers?) are hiring consultants to sleuth to find out how many of their employees are pregnant — or even thinking about it.  Yes, you read that right? Pregnant.  Like it is any of their business.  Talk about a smoking privacy invasion.  So what are they actually doing and why are they doing it?

Apparently, these employers are collecting data about a female employee’s age, her Internet search history, and whether she has stopped filling her birth control prescriptions.  The consultants — the ones with the black stocking caps and flashlights — say that, “generally” speaking, the employers don’t have the information to connect the data to individual employees.  Doesn’t that “generally” speaking language make you feel all warm and fuzzy?????  Yeh, me, too.

So, you still  must be wondering why some employers are risking the possibility of this kind of unlawful privacy invasion.  Protection of profits, of course.  They want to get an idea of how much money the company will spend on healthcare related to employee pregnancies and associated medical costs.  So, for them, the question becomes whether the end justifies the means.  I guess it depends on how greedy the company is.

Another important question for me involves what other ways this “data” can be used by companies to adversely affect women employees?  After all, the issue of a company’s responsibility for an employee’s pregnancy-related healthcare costs disappears into thin air when the employee is terminated by the company for unrelated reasons.  Could the  healthcare coverage that employees hold dear be used as a sword and not a shield in this way?

We can hope that law firms —- full of folks who presumably should pause to contemplate the legality of these practices — would not take such risks.  But, who knows?  Lots of bad things are done in the name of money.

What to do?  Protection is key.  You may want to fill your birth control prescriptions no matter what!  Just saying!



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