Seattle tech worker blows whistle on pregnancy discrimination

Long hours and ruthless competition are often the prerequisites of a successful career at tech companies in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and the east-side suburbs. While employees’ personal sacrifices are amply rewarded with stock options and salaries, it’s not always possible to live up to these demands–particularly for women who want to have children.

Despite legal protections and generous maternity leave benefits touted at many of the tech companies, pregnancy discrimination remains a major hurdle to career advancement. And for women who experience such discrimination, holding their employers accountable can be daunting.

Chelsey Glasson, who worked as a researcher at Google’s Seattle office until last month, shared her story with Fast Company to spotlight the subtle biases and discrimination pregnant women face, even in progressive workplaces like Google with generous leave policies.

“There’s this unspoken expectation in tech that you’re just always on and leaning in,” she said. “And if work isn’t your number one priority, you’re in this situation where your job is compromised because there’s always someone else who isn’t dealing with those circumstances and can work 70 hours a week.

Read Glasson’s full story here.

Pregnancy discrimination can start as soon as a woman is showing, and often lasts well after she becomes a mother. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state employment agencies report a nearly a 50 percent jump in pregnancy discrimination complaints between 1997 and 2011.

Glasson filed a complaint with the EEOC, as a step toward suing Google for alleged discrimination. Following an investigation, the EEOC will decide if her case is eligible to pursue in court.

Suing tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft or Facebook in court is a daunting process, given the armies of lawyers and human resources administrators working the companies’ behalf.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us at if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, injury, discrimination or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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