Pregnant Governor Faces Sex Discrimination

Last week, the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, an eight-member panel who meets regularly with Governor Jane Swift (R), voted 5-3 to bring before the state Supreme Court the question of the legitimacy and constitutionality of Swift maintaining her role as governor while hospitalized for complications with her pregnancy. Specifically the panel, made up entirely of democrats, questioned the constitutionality of Swift conducting meetings via speakerphone from her hospital bed. “The Massachusetts Democrats should remember the gender gap favoring them is based in part on their traditionally stronger support for women’s rights,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Shame on them for making political hay out of sex discrimination.”

Suggesting Swift could not effectively manage the state government while pregnant may violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978–an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, which states “discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.”

If Swift is forced to relinquish her position as governor while hospitalized, Secretary of State William Galvin would take up her duties temporarily. Galvin, a democrat, might run against her in the next gubernatorial election.

Update: On 5/16 Gov. Swift began her maternity leave.


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Associated Press Ð May 14, 2001; Washington Post Ð May 10, 2001; New York Times Ð May 10, 2001; Los Angeles Times Ð May 10, 2001

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