Halliburton In Hot Water Over Pregnancy Policy

Whether you love or hate former Vice President Dick Cheney’s previous employer Halliburton, you would likely agree that a company that has profited so much from federal government contracts ought to, at the very least, follow federal law in return.  According to one former employee, however, that is not the case.  Lynda Darden, of Dallas Texas, was fired last year for having “violated the company’s policy against procreation.”

She has now filed a lawsuit against the company and is seeking financial compensation since getting her job back “would not be feasible under the circumstances.”  At the time, Darden was told she was being let go as part of a general lay-off, but she was the only employee let go and there were several less experienced employees who were not laid off.  Allegedly, her position was then advertised on the internet for a brief time looking for a replacement.

Based on the number of lawsuits filed against the company — Darden’s lawyer, Todd Kelly, has made quite the career out of suing Halliburton and currently represents Jamie Leigh Jones, a woman who was gang-raped by fellow employees of Halliburton subsidiary KBR — I suspect that Kelly may be right when he says “I don’t believe that Halliburton treats its women as they should.”  In fact, that may very well be quite the understatement.

Of course, this case is just getting started and there are, I’m sure, many facts to be discovered.  But even if it turns out that she was fired for becoming pregnant, is it really fair to a company to expect them to support a worker who, through their own choice, is unable to perform their duties?  We don’t have the same protections for someone who goes off on a drinking bender or for someone who simply wants to explore the Australian Outback (trust me, I’ve looked into it) — so why should we have such protections for a woman who goes and gets herself knocked up?

The difference between getting pregnant and going on a binge or on walkabout is that while those (the latter, anyway) may be beneficial for the individual, they do nothing for society at large.  Having children and being able to raise them in a supported, financially stable environment, however, is actually quite beneficial for all of us.  And so, we make certain accommodations to help make that happen.

Sure, it may mean higher costs for companies which translate into higher prices for us, but it is far cheaper to pay an extra cent or two at the pump each year than it is to support a kid whose mom is homeless because she lost her job for becoming pregnant.  What do you think?

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