A working mom’s Wal-Mart nightmare
Politicians love to talk about working moms managing their busy lives, particularly when those working moms managing their busy lives decide to go back to school. Add in a pregnancy, and you basically have the ideal hypothetical woman, tailor made to be praised and lionized during some campaign speech from some candidate explaining just how focused they are on the needs of women.
But Tiffany Beroid isn’t a political abstraction, she’s a real person who wanted to finish her degree while managing the demands of work, family and a high-risk pregnancy. And despite a lot of lip service from lawmakers, policies that support working mothers are few and far between. Beroid was employed at a Wal-Mart in Laurel, Maryland for about three years when she decided to go back to school part-time. She said she tried to work out a schedule that could accommodate the demands of work, family and school, but the company responded by cutting her hours. In fact, her hours — and income — were cut so drastically that Beroid eventually had to drop out of school. When her high-risk pregnancy meant that she needed to be put on lighter work, she was placed on unpaid leave. When she raised these problems to Wal-Mart, she was fired.
“Wal-Mart fired me for speaking out,” Beroid said of the ordeal.
And this is where the policy vacuum comes in. She had no legal recourse, just like millions of working women in her exact situation have no legal recourse when they show up to work only to be told that their shift has been cut, their hours reduced or their weekday schedule has been changed to a weekend schedule. But a measure introduced by Democrats in the House and Senate this week is attempting to address at least one of the problems Beroid faced — erratic scheduling that made planning to attend class, arranging for child-care and receiving a reliable paycheck nearly impossible. Put simply, the Schedules That Work Act would stop companies like Wal-Mart from retaliating against workers like Beroid for asking for scheduling accommodations, and make it easier for them to juggle work, school and family.
This is a huge issue for working families and working mothers in all industries. As recently noted by Jana Kasperkevic at the Guardian, data from ROC-United found that of the 200 mothers with young children they surveyed, 46 percent had an unpredictable work schedule, with nearly 40 percent reporting that their schedules changed on a weekly basis. These erratic schedules often result in a frantic scramble for child-care, made all the more challenging by unpredictable wages that come with your hours changing on a weekly basis.
Sourced from Salon.com