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Congrats to Marissa Mayer! Not only is she the new CEO of Yahoo but she is also pregnant with her first child.
Mayer and her husband Zack Bogue are welcoming their baby in October which means that she will be taking some maternity leave later this year. That wouldn't be big news except that Mayer is the CEO of a publicly traded Fortune 500 company. Her maternity leave will be a first in the business world, according to TechCrunch.
With all the controversy about women in top business roles, it's nice to see a woman with an amazing career who is also able to have a family without her employer getting twitchy.
It's great that Yahoo recognized that pregnancy is not a reason to disqualify Mayer, whose credentials are very impressive. But it has made us think about all the legal protections that women have in case their employer is not as "evolved," to take a description from Mayer's interview with Fortune.
Federal and state laws have come a long way in protecting women who want to keep their jobs and have a family.
Mayer reportedly disclosed her pregnancy to Yahoo executives before they made their final decision. But even if she hadn't, Yahoo couldn't have asked. Pregnancy should not be part of hiring and firing decisions.
For women who have just had children and have worked at their current job for a year, the Family Medical Leave Act guarantees up to 12 weeks of maternity leave. While the leave is unpaid, it requires an employer to hold a woman's job at her current salary while she goes on maternity leave. That job will be waiting for her when she returns.
Mayer only just started at Yahoo, so the FMLA won't kick in for her. But she is planning to take a few weeks off when her baby is born reports Fortune, although it may be a 'working maternity leave.'
Sex discrimination is not allowed in the workplace according to the Civil Rights Act. This includes discrimination because a female employee chooses to have a baby. Having children is not a fire-able offense.
While Marissa Mayer's pregnancy was likely not intended to make such a statement, it certainly is a positive message that having a baby and being a high powered executive are not mutually exclusive.