Former Student Alleges Neil Gorsuch Said Women "Manipulate" Companies for Maternity Leave Benefits
A 2019 graduate of the University of Colorado Law School alleges that Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch once explained to his class that "many women" manipulate companies to receive maternity leave—only to leave their jobs after they've availed themselves of the benefits.
According to a new letter submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has begun confirmation hearings on Gorsuch this afternoon, Gorsuch told his students that companies—law firms, especially—should find out during the interview process whether women plan to have children. While companies aren't technically barred from asking, federal law dictates that they can't make hiring decisions based on a prospective employee's pregnancy status or his or her potential family plans.
Jennifer Sisk, the student who submitted the letter via the National Women's Law Center and the National Employment Lawyers Association, writes that on April 19, 2019, Gorusch cited a hypothetical in which a woman applies for jobs at law firms, knowing that she has considerable debt to pay off and that she wants to have children with her husband.
According to Sisk, Gorsuch then asked the class how many people knew women who used a company's maternity leave benefits and then immediately left their jobs after their leave was up. Only a few raised their hands, prompting Gorsuch to exclaim: "Come on, guys. All of your hands should be up. Many women do this."
Sisk told NPR that Gorsuch insisted "that this was women taking advantage of their companies, that this was a woman's issue, a woman's problem with having children and disadvantaging their companies by doing that."
At the time, Sisk found the line of reasoning so concerning that she raised it the assistant dean and then-dean at the law school, who assured her they would talk to Gorsuch about it at the end of the term. Sisk remembers telling leadership that Gorsuch was an otherwise good professor, but that these comments struck her as "problematic," especially because she grew up hearing her own mother talk about the discrimination she'd faced when she attended law school in the 1970s.
"It seemed to me that was in the past," Sisk said.
Video: Trump SCOTUS Nominee And Maternity Leave Controversy?
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