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According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, the proportion of mothers who opt to stay at home with children under 18 has been rising steadily in recent years. The percentage of all mothers who stay at home and do not work outside the house rose to 29% in 2012. This number is up from 23% in 1999, when the population of stay-at-home mothers in the modern era bottomed out. The uptick has reversed a trend from the late 1960’s to the late 1990’s that saw stay-at-home moms steadily decrease from 47% in 1970. However while the overall demographic of stay-at-home moms has been going up steadily, the moms who are responsible for that growth may not be the ones most of us presume them to be.


In a case with a set of circumstances that would make a good book on how an employer should not handle an employee returning from maternity leave, Nationwide Insurance nevertheless got a favorable decision due to technicalities. In Ames v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. 8th Circuit, the employee returning from an eight-week maternity leave was told she had two weeks to catch up on her work or she would be disciplined. In addition, the company called her back to work earlier than originally planned because of an error in calculating her leave, and advised her not to object to the change because it would send up “red flags” that she would not want to send up. Further, her department head told her that a lactation room for her to express milk was not available, advised her to go home “to be with her babies,” and allegedly handed her a pen and paper and dictated what she should write to submit her resignation. All of this happened on the day she returned to work.

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