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A Pregnancy Test Is Not an Acceptable Part of Job Interview

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

Airline learns it can't force women to take a pregnancy test as part of the hiring process

Job interviews are kind of the worst. It’s like a first date, only with someone you’ll have to spend all day every day with for the foreseeable future and who controls your source of income. Plus, you’re expected to answer questions about your “greatest weakness” and come up some sort of drivel on how sometimes you “care too much” or “work too hard.” That’s all stressful enough without making prospective employees pee on a stick.

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I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was reality for prospective employees of Iberia, a Spanish airline that required job candidates to take a pregnancy test before they were hired, The New York Times reported.

Initially, the airline defended its policy, citing the safety of its employees, as pregnant people are advised not to fly during their final trimester. But that went against gender discrimination laws in Spain, and the company was fined around $28,000. Following the ruling, Iberia said in a statement that it would not appeal and would no longer require the pregnancy tests.

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“There is no reason to justify it,” the Unión General de Trabajadores, one of Spain’s two main labor unions, said in a statement, adding that if a company did ask for a pregnancy test as part of a job interview process, “we would evidently be faced with a clear case of discrimination.”

The good news is that this practice was shut down and recognized as inappropriate. The bad news is that this is one of the more overt ways corporations attempt to base hiring decisions on potential employees’ reproductive plans. Hiring women of childbearing age is still — in 2017 — seen as a liability rather than, say, making sure that everyone has access to birth control or that family leave policies are more equitable, it’s just easier to exclude women who may potentially at one stage give birth. Tough luck, ladies — it’s just part of your lot in life!

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Here’s another option: If the airline absolutely insisted on ensuring that none of their newly hired employees were with child, they could have done something totally out there and asked the applicants. Chances are, they know whether or not they’re pregnant (yes, there are rare exceptions to this, but that shouldn’t set the standard for the rest of us). But that would involve actually trusting women, and clearly we’re not there yet.

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