Hastings Business Law Journal


The number of married women with childcare responsibilities who joined the workforce tripled in the last three decades. The American workplace has failed to keep pace with this development and, as a result, these women face a barrier known as the "maternal wall," defined as discrimination against working mothers and caregivers which results in excluding them from desirable employment. As a result of this change in the American workforce, maternal wall litigation has increased. Although plaintiffs initially had difficulty in prevailing on claims of maternal wall litigation due to strict requirements for comparator evidence, plaintiffs have seen increased success as courts have relaxed this requirement in favor of a showing of stereotyping evidence, resulting in significant litigation costs and expensive settlements to the employer. The author concludes that the adoption of family-friendly policies, such as flextime scheduling, telecommuting, and reduced hours, is the proper step for reducing maternal wall litigation while increasing competitiveness and productivity.