Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to our podcast and leave a review! 

iTunes  |  Spotify  Google

In this episode, I had the pleasure of chatting with Daphne Delvaux, Esq., widely known as The Mamattorney. As an award-winning trial attorney and founder of Delvaux Law, Daphne is a passionate advocate for women’s rights at work, particularly focusing on motherhood discrimination cases. In this conversation, we dive into the complexities of workplace trauma, reasonable accommodations, and the crucial understanding of employment rights during pregnancy and postpartum.

Daphne shares her expertise on the vulnerabilities mothers face in the workplace, shedding light on issues like forced leaves and common misunderstandings about parental leave rights. We explore how the law serves as a powerful tool to protect both new parents and babies, offering insights into the challenges new parents encounter and practical steps to advocate for themselves in the workplace. Join us for an eye-opening discussion as we uncover the realities of creating a supportive and empowering work environment for ambitious parents.

Content Note: In this episode, we talk about workplace trauma, reasonable accommodations, and gendered language may be used.

Resources

Learn more about Daphne’s work here: https://www.themamattorney.com/

Follow Daphne’s work on Instagram @themamattorney and Facebook.

Download Daphne’s Employee Rights Guide here.

Learn more about Chamber of Mothers:

Transcript

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Hi, everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Daphne Delvaux, more commonly known as The Mamattorney, about understanding your employment rights and how to navigate pregnancy and postpartum accommodations at work. 

Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker, and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See ebbirth.com/disclaimer for more details. 

Hi everyone, my name is Rebecca Dekker, pronouns she/her, and I’ll be your host for today’s episode. I wanted to let you know that in this episode, we will be talking about workplace trauma, reasonable accommodations, and gendered language may be used. And now I’d like to introduce our honored guest. Daphne Delvaux Esquire, pronouns she/her, is an award-winning trial attorney and founder of Delvaux Law, a firm devoted to women’s rights at work. Daphne represents employees in discrimination, retaliation, and harassment cases, and she specializes in motherhood discrimination cases. In her work as a trial attorney, Daphne has recovered countless six- and seven-figure settlements and verdicts on behalf of her clients, obtaining the monetary justice her clients deserve while restoring their sense of dignity and self-worth. 

Daphne has been recognized by major news outlets, both nationally and internationally, as a leader of the women’s rights movement and has received the award of Outstanding Trial Lawyer for winning an equal pay trial. In addition to her work as a trial attorney, Delvaux is a mother to two boys, and her passion for women’s and mothers’ rights has led her to champion women in a myriad of ways outside of her law practice. She is co-founder of the Chamber of Mothers, a collective movement to focus America’s priorities on mothers’ rights, and their primary goal is to secure federal paid leave, affordable child care, and health care. In recognition of their work, the Chamber was invited to the White House and to visit Congress. Delvaux is also the creator of The Mamattorney, a platform on a mission to educate women on their rights at work and teach them how to advocate for their needs so that they can receive more financial freedom and time freedom without sacrificing their career goals. Currently at 130,000 followers across platforms, Daphne is routinely seen as the expert on pregnancy and postpartum discrimination, as well as maternity leave regulations. And Daphne is on a mission to help ambitious moms achieve professional homecoming. We’re so excited that Daphne is here today on the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. Welcome.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

I’m really happy to be here. I love the work that you all do.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, and we love your work. So we’re so thrilled that our listeners can learn from your expertise and learn more about this topic because you’re definitely the expert we need to talk about rights in the workplace. Can you talk a little bit about what motivates you and what led you to this path?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Well, what motivates me is preventing the premature separation of mother and baby. And the same reason that I feel this innate sense to protect a mother, an animal mother and a cub in the wild, I want to really protect this mother-baby bubble. And the law actually allows us to do that in a variety of ways. So we’re using the law as a tool to make sure that the mother and the baby feel safe and protected and can stay together. In addition, the law allows us to protect the pregnancy because a stressed mom during pregnancy is not good for either the mom or the baby. In addition, a stressed mom after birth also can result in certain issues with connecting with the baby or breastfeeding. And workplace plays a big part in the mental health of the mother and the financial stability. It can sometimes be one of the primary reasons that a mother can feel stressed. 

This is an extremely vulnerable transition. And when the workplace doesn’t support the mother, it can permeate her entire experience. A lot of my moms feel like there was an emotional robbery of this beautiful, sacred experience because they weren’t supported at work. They didn’t have enough time. They didn’t have enough accommodations. They didn’t have enough financial support or benefits. So what I like to do is use the knowledge that I have to educate and empower moms to advocate for themselves and their babies. I try to teach them to be their own attorney. You know, your baby needs a good lawyer. I also experienced when I was a mom as an attorney in a law firm, it’s an extremely difficult thing to do. Even though I was an expert in this field, I also struggled with just feeling supported. Most of the time, I felt extremely overwhelmed. So what motivates me is preventing trauma and really helping babies get a good start in life.

We live in a system that really capitalizes on separation of mother and baby because the mom at work is better for the business. And the mom at home with their baby doesn’t support what capitalism needs. And capitalism is not necessarily bad, but we see in our system of capitalism that there is a bit of a corrupted version of it. That no one takes any time off. You know, in other countries where there is more. There is kind of a healthier work-life balance. People will take a six-week paid vacation. Or they take burnout leave for many months. Or they take caretaking leave for a loved one. In that context, maternity leave or parental leave is not so drastic. But what we see in our workplace is that it’s often the moms that have to take time away. And as a result, the coworkers or the supervisors, management can feel really frustrated about that. Because it interferes with their demands for production. So we’re kind of in this position where we have to kind of push back against the demands of our labor, which can be really, really uncomfortable. But the law allows us to do that. And it’s through educating moms on which language to use, giving them specific scripts, because I know they’re busy, that I help them take more time off with their babies and have healthier pregnancies and postpartum experiences.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, I think you raise a really good point that it’s… It’s very much a U.S. problem right now with the separation of parents and babies, which in many other countries, they can’t hardly believe how inhumane we are to the… mother-baby dyad. And I know I’ve witnessed a lot of family members and friends have horror stories from being forced to go back to work early in every range of professions, ranging from people who can’t afford to take leave to… people who are paid high amounts but are told if you don’t come back at four weeks postpartum, you lose your job. I’m thinking of… you know, even OB/GYN residents may be forced to return to work four weeks postpartum. And they’re supposed to be a profession that’s like supporting people giving birth. So what are you seeing across the land? Like, are more people being given paid leave or is it still just a small portion of people?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

So before we delve into this question, we have to understand what paid leave means. Paid leave, when I understand it, means that you live in a state that provides paid leave benefits through payroll deductions so that the payment actually comes from your state benefits fund. That is legally what we mean when we say paid leave. However, we also have companies that provide paid leave policies. But in my work, we really distinguish those two. Paid leave policies are a benefit. It’s a perk. It’s like having ping pong tables at work. It is not a legal right that you have. It is something that your company can provide as a generosity, like providing a healthcare package or providing a 401k package. It can be one of those things that a company can decide to do. But when we talk about paid leave, traditionally we mean that you live in a state that provides paid leave benefits. So that’s the first thing where we have to… If we want to try to understand what our benefits are, we first have to research whether we live in a paid leave state. 

And then we have to see if our company provides paid leave benefits as well. And these are two actually separate investigations and assessments. So the one thing I want to say to moms when they’re doing the research on their rights is that it is very confusing. In fact, if you’re not confused, you’re not doing it right. And still keep going. It is not a system that is easy to understand. I have seen as a whole, companies have increased paid leave benefits. However, I’ve also seen companies retract paid leave benefits. There was kind of a big movement, I would say 21, where more companies were pushing these benefits to attract labor. But then they actually, during the big layoffs, they just slashed all of it. In fact, Twitter is kind of the primary example. They have this 20-week paid leave policy. 

And then Elon Musk came in and just slashed the whole thing and slashed it even while people were using it. So they suddenly had no access. And because it’s not a right, there’s kind of nothing you can enforce because it’s a perk, it’s a benefit. Now, when it comes to the states, I have absolutely seen more states implement paid leave benefit programs. Oregon was the one that just went into effect in September. Maine just passed. So there’s Minnesota. More and more states, and this is happening pretty quickly, are coming out with their own paid leave programs. So you want to really make sure that you are on top of your local politics because these paid leave policies actually come through your state government and not through your federal government. That’s always my first piece of advice is to actually check whether your state provides benefits because a lot of women have access to benefits but don’t know. 

These are not necessarily programs that are advertised well, these benefits programs. In addition, they’re quite hard sometimes to actually achieve because of the system. You have to kind of navigate these complex government websites, and then you have to provide doctor’s notes. And it’s this whole thing. It’s not easy, but it is available in some states. Now, we all need paid leave and we don’t. And that’s really the issue in the US is that we have kind of this patchwork of some states that provide benefits, but they don’t. And so it’s really hard to achieve that. Some companies that provide paid leave, but we don’t as a whole. Most people do not have paid leave. Generally, most people do not. So we have most people kind of falling in this gap, which leaves them in this extremely vulnerable position. And then even the people that do have paid leave are also in this position where they have to figure this out. They have to figure out a system that’s really complicated, very confusing, isn’t really created to make it easy. And so I think that’s a really important piece of advice. And then they feel like they often have to advocate for something while they are really tired and overwhelmed. So I think as a whole, what we need, is a federal paid leave policy to harmonize all of these complex and confusing systems so that it’s less of a hodgepodge and more of like a uniform policy that would allow for the clarity and the ease and the simplicity that we really need to support all families.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. Okay. I feel like I learned so much in just the last five minutes of you talking. So we just experienced this with Oregon and having an employee there and noticing how that system works. It was a little confusing, but we got notifications and we were required to notify our employees. So what, can you clarify a little bit more about the difference between what an employer can choose to provide versus what a state benefit would be.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

I just want to clarify one thing when we talk about paid leave. People often say, this is our money. Like you pay from your pay stubs into a system and then you get that money back. That’s what we were experiencing. And I feel like there’s this misconception about like that we’re using, you know, our employers have to pay or the taxpayers to pay. Like, no, you’re actually paying for this yourself and you’re just getting the money back. And I feel like that’s a really important thing to understand. And when we talk about paid leave, yeah, generally people assume your company has to pay for that. But it’s not true. Like this is a benefit program you get through the government. But as a company, you can absolutely decide to provide paid leave. What a lot of companies do is when there is a state program is they supplement the difference because the paid leave benefits usually are a certain percentage, like 60%, 70%. Washington, California up to the 90s. So you have some, you know, variance there. But companies, when they are benevolent companies, they generally supplement the differential so that the employee doesn’t suffer any wage loss. So that’s just something I wanted to clarify.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So then I also want to brag on you a little bit, Daphne. You operate the first and only law firm that is 100% dedicated to these types of issues, to pregnancy rights, parental leave rights, and back-to-work rights. What else are you seeing in this field of law?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

So when it comes to pregnancy, the most common issue I see is women being forced on leave. Instead of accommodated. So during pregnancy, often it’s a little bit harder to do our jobs because of pregnancy limitations, like pushing, lifting..maybe driving, walking. And what a lot of companies will do is say, oh, just go on leave, you know, just go home and take your leave, knowing that they will run out of leave when their baby comes and then will actually be forced to resign. So this is like a sneaky little thing that I see a lot of employers do. Instead of accommodating the employee, saying, oh, well, maybe we can move your offices or maybe you can work from home or maybe you can work a flex schedule. They will just say, well, just take time, take leave, you know, go on leave. But then the woman runs out of leave and doesn’t have any time off for having a baby. 

And then she, the company knows that’s an impossible choice. And usually those women resign. So that is something that I really often see with pregnancy. Another thing I often see with pregnancy is that a woman will give notice of her pregnancy verbally and then she’s let go right away. And then she comes to me and I’m like, okay, well, what is your evidence that they knew you were pregnant? And she said, well, I told them in person. And companies are really taking advantage of women telling their employers verbally that they are pregnant because then there’s no evidence. When it comes to parental leave rights, I’m just seeing a complete lack of understanding on both the employer and the employee side when it comes to these rights. And I also see a lot of women being pushed to return earlier than they have leave still covering them. And another thing I see with leave rights is companies mistakenly believe or maliciously misrepresent that it’s up to them to decide when you can take your leave. When truly when you have leave rights, you can decide when to take those. So a company will say, well, that really falls in the middle of the busy quarter. 

Can you just take like two weeks and then come back and then maybe you can take the rest of your leave later? They’re not allowed to do that. And they’re not allowed to pressure a woman to come, or, parent to come back from leave early. They’re also not allowed to interfere in your leave, meaning they’re not allowed to ask you to do work during your leave. Those are the most common issues I see in the bucket of parental leave. And then when it comes to back to work, what I see most often is that companies assume that when you come back to work, you have no more discrimination protections. So specifically for companies can can, you know, let’s say you come back and then a company will say something like, well, you just had your baby. You’re probably tired. You probably have your hands full. You might get pregnant again. Let’s just put you in this admin position because, you know, we just don’t know when you’ll drop out again. And we don’t know if you’ll stay. That would be against the law. You’re entitled to be reinstated after you return from leave. 

You know, job protection means that your job has to be kept open for you. A lot of companies will replace someone during leave. For example, they put Josh in your position. And then when you come back, they’re going to say, well, he’s actually doing a good job. And, you know, your positions been filled. So we don’t have a position for you anymore. They actually have to return you to your job. And they might feel like that’s unfair to whoever replaced you. But that is really not the point here when it comes to the legal protections that we have as parents. You know, it would be kind of these laws would be useless if it would mean we lose our jobs. So when it comes to returning to work, I see a lot of companies assume that they’ve been generous enough. You’ve taken your time. And now I can do whatever I want with you. And that’s not true. Most of my cases are actually not pregnancy discrimination, but leave discrimination. So that means that you’re treated adversely or differently because you took parental leave, a protected leave. And that’s where I see actually most of the misunderstanding about the law. Because companies can really act out of frustration or resentment for the employee being gone. And they often feel like when the employee comes back they just don’t really trust them anymore. Or they don’t know when they’ll leave again. And there’s a lot of fear and assumptions and bias. They might assume the parent’s just too tired or frazzled or unmotivated, undedicated. Or the baby might get sick a lot. And there’s a lot of assumptions made. And they act out of those assumptions and out of those fears. So those are kind of the three categories that I see.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. There are a couple of things I want you to clarify, because I know you said there’s no federal paid leave policy, but I think what you’re referring to while you’re talking is people are violating federal law related to unpaid leaves? Is that?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

So within the context of maternal rights or parental rights, there’s quite a lot of laws. So when we talk about leave rights, that is one of the many, many categories of the issues we’re discussing. One thing that is federally protected is anti-discrimination for pregnancy or for taking time off. That is a general protection that we’ve had. Another general protection since this year is the accommodations rights that we have before and after birth. So there are rights that are in existence on the federal level. But when we talk about there’s no paid leave, that’s specifically the fact that people who are on leave in the U.S. as a whole do not have access to financial support. However, there are laws that are in existence. This is an important point that you’re raising. Because there’s a lot of rhetoric about there’s no paid leave in the U.S. and often what I see is that we assume as a whole there are no rights. Like there are just no rights during and after pregnancy. And that is not true. There is no access to financial support as a whole when you are a parent in the U.S. you may have access to it through your state or your company. It depends on where you live and where you work. However, as a whole, we do have anti-discrimination protections during and after pregnancy. We also as a whole have accommodation rights and pumping rights. So there are certainly rights that we do have. And it’s important that we also talk about those and elevate those and raise awareness of those so that we do not assume that there are no rights in the U.S. during and after pregnancy.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So if an employer violates those rights by discriminating against you, what kind of recourse do people usually have? I’m assuming most people don’t have access to legal help. So what do you see most people doing when they’re told their position is filled when they come back from leave and other things like that. Is there recourse?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Yes. And that’s another thing we can talk about, because I think we assume attorneys are really expensive. But attorneys like me, actually, we do not charge our clients. We get paid at the end of a case through a contingency fee. And that’s because it’s not fair to expect someone who just got fired to pay an attorney’s fees. In addition, there’s a ton of organizations. There’s legal aid. There’s just wonderful organizations that support parents during these experiences that you can rely on. Center for Work-Life Law. There’s a few that I really like, A Better Balance, that provide just free legal support. So there are so many spaces you can go to. And it’s important not to feel disempowered in this, thinking, oh, I can’t afford a lawyer, there’s nothing I can do. When you are experiencing something like this, I do find that it’s important to first notify your own employer. They may not be aware of what’s happening. Sometimes it’s the conduct done by middle management. They may not be trained. It’s really also because fairness dictates that your employer knows what’s happening. They’re allowed to know and try to help you and remedy the situation. A lot of companies really want to help you. 

And the first thing you have to do is report what’s happening in writing to either human resources or upper management or someone just above the person that is doing the conduct. But if you feel like it’s not getting anywhere, that’s when you want to reach out to support, whether it is one of the organizations or an attorney in your state. And the attorneys, like me, the employment attorneys, almost always provide a free consult initially and then represent you on a contingency fee basis, which means that it just means that at the end of the case, when the employee receives payment, we add attorney’s fees, the time that we spent, and the company actually pays us. So these cases are no joke for employers because they’re very expensive for them and the employee actually pays nothing. The system is very fair that way. It really recognizes that employees have no recourse to expenses that could afford our fees. So as a result, they actually put that on the employer. So when as an employer, you are in a legal conundrum, you’re not only paying your own lawyer, but you end up paying their lawyer too. You have to be really careful with these cases because they end up being very, very expensive on the employer side.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So like, documenting and writing to someone in upper management or HR is important because then it might alert them to the fact that somebody lower down in management is making a huge mistake that could cost them a lot of money. And they might come crawling back with their tail between their legs apologizing. That’s possible?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

So they never apologize because that would be an admission. But they will definitely try to, you know, if something like what usually a company would do when they are risk averse and they’re educated is they would either fire that person that’s doing that conduct or separate them. Um, or at least there would be some corrective action to make sure that it doesn’t continue. And, um, good companies will also make sure that the person, the person who was aggrieved, the victim, feels supported throughout all of that, and that this was not a reflection of the company, that this was just one bad apple. It’s when companies do not respond that way that that’s when usually attorneys get involved.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. What about rights related to loss? So I think we’ve seen a lot of horror stories in the news about people who are forced to come back to work right after a stillbirth or a miscarriage. What are the rights in the U.S. about that?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

So the rights for that are medical leave. So when you’re eligible for a medical leave, that’s when you would take the time off. The mistake people make is that they ask for time off under bereavement. And that doesn’t exist. So it’s just the wrong question to ask. So when you ask for time off under bereavement, it’s not a right that really exists. And then a company says, no, you don’t have that. And then employees assume they have no rights. When it comes to laws, I see mass misinformation and myths, and I think it’s quite harmful because it actually, again, we assume that we have, because we’re all seeing these reels, we assume we have no rights, and all of these loss parents are going back to work thinking they have no right to time off. We have rights to time off, but it is under medical leave. It’s for either physical recovery or mental health recovery. 

So when you’re asking for a time off, you have to ask it under your disability rights, not your bereavement rights, because bereavement rights do not exist. So it is just the wrong question to ask, and it’s important that we understand that we do have rights after loss. Now, depending on where you live, they may not be paid, but if you are eligible for medical leave or even if you’re not eligible for medical leave, you can ask for the time off under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Before that, you could ask for time off under the ADA. So you’re actually using your disability rights, whether it is physical or mental health, to take the time off to recover. But when it is also, another thing that’s important to talk about in this context is that women often wait to give notice at work of their pregnancy because they want to make sure the pregnancy is safe. From a legal perspective, that only helps your employer. 

If you’re not telling your employer that you’re pregnant, you also are not enjoying the benefits and protections of your rights. And when you then have a loss, you’re kind of in this tricky position because they don’t know you’re pregnant. And if you then ask for time off, it’s quite disruptive and confusing for everyone. So it’s actually better to give notice of your pregnancy because we might not know what’s going to happen. But either way, you’re going to need some time off, whether it’s for a baby or for a loss. So it actually doesn’t help anyone to wait to announce your pregnancy. In fact, let’s say you’re struggling with morning sickness and you’re late a lot or you’re late on projects, but you haven’t told them you’re pregnant. You can be fired. Because you haven’t asserted your rights. But if you tell them I’m experiencing morning sickness because I’m pregnant, then you are receiving this protection bubble by the law because then you’re in a protected class. So that’s an important discussion to have within the context of loss.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. And also making sure you tell people in writing so nobody can pretend like you didn’t say it. You’ve mentioned the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. And I know we also have the Pump for Nursing Mothers Act. And these are both newer acts federally put into place in the U.S. Can you talk a little bit about the significance of these?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Oh, I love these new laws. They’re just beautiful. So let’s talk with the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. So this law was already in existence in a ton of states. So this right, I mean, accommodation rights was already something most people had access to. However, we didn’t have it on the federal level. So again, it was just confusing. There was no clarity. Employers with remote workers all over the state had just major headaches when it comes to accommodations. But we did have the ADA. So the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, you can think of it kind of like an expansion of the ADA. And when we think of the ADA we traditionally think about like, wheelchair ramps, right, or a translator for if you have issues related to hearing. So those are kind of the things we think of traditionally when it comes to the ADA. What the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act does is it creates this experience of accommodations in the pregnant and postpartum bubble. 

So when you need accommodations, like telework, like flexibility, like, additional time to finish projects, like changing offices, like even changing jobs, if it’s possible, because you have pregnancy-related limitations, like back pain, like morning sickness, like preeclampsia, like anxiety or depression, or anything related to your pregnancy. And this is a non-exhaustive list. You can work with your doctor on your own personal experience. But when you are experiencing something pregnancy or postpartum related, so this also includes postpartum disability, postpartum anxiety, you know, let’s say your baby’s not taking the bottle and it’s making you really stressed out, that can result in anxiety, or you’re still recovering from birth trauma or mastitis, those sorts of things, anything related to the pregnancy and postpartum experience. 

If you feel like you need a change to your job and you need help to do your job, you can ask your employer to change your job to make it easier for you to do your job. That’s what these accommodation rights mean. And this is specifically intended to make sure that we don’t get pushed out of our jobs because we can’t keep up. The law specifically says in this context that if you can’t keep up because you’re pregnant or postpartum, that’s okay. You’ll catch up. In the meantime, let’s explore how we can make it easier for you. So it’s a beautiful, compassionate law. It’s very realistic. I’m a big fan of it. I think we all… We all need to be looking at it when we’re pregnant. And it can be… The law is really designed to be flexible, to allow for creativity, to be job-specific. So it’s truly up to you to think, hmm, how can I make this better? How can I change the job so that I can feel healthier and more supported? And then working with your management, with management to get to a resolution. And they have an affirmative duty to work with you. So that is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The PUMP Act expands eligibility when it comes to pumping rights. 

So just like with the leave rights, some postpartum employees had access to pumping rights, but not all. There were these huge categories that were excluded. And a lot of it was based on how you were paid. But then in some states, you did have it. And again, just mass confusion, lack of clarity. So what the PUMP Act did is that it just expanded eligibility to almost everyone. And I say almost everyone because the airline industry is still excluded. But other than the airline industry, everyone has pumping rights. The pumping rights are really the same. So you have access to time and a space that is not a bathroom for pumping. But what the PUMP Act did, it was kind of this broad stroke. And it just said, all right, everyone. Get to pumping. Because we just had so many employees that weren’t able to pump. So that’s what the PUMP Act did, is that it expanded eligibility to millions of lactating employees that didn’t have access to these rights before.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

I think it’s really important that you’re educating us about these because I can only imagine we have some parents listening who are maybe pregnant for the second, third, or fourth time. And they didn’t have these protections the first time around. So you just assume you don’t have them. With another baby, but now they’re in place.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Yeah. Right. And that’s exactly the point. I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head. The landscape is changing. As a whole, generally, it’s getting better. It’s slow, but it’s getting better. So when you have more babies, you have to assume you’re going to have more rates with each baby. So we’re really seeing an expansion of these rates on the federal level, not yet with paid leave, but definitely with the accommodation rights before and after pregnancy, as well as pumping.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Are you seeing employers, like businesses, companies, institutions, are they aware of these acts and respecting them? Or do you still feel like there’s a knowledge gap and a lot of people don’t know they exist yet?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

So I see three sorts of employers. I mean, I see employers that are really on it and they take this very seriously, whether it is because they care or because they’re afraid or both, but they’re really on it. The second bucket I see is employers that are just really busy with their business-related activity, right? Like what I’m explaining here, that is my field. It is something that I do every day. It is niche and it is, it’s a discipline that is deep and there’s a lot, and I study this every day. I work with these rights every day, but we’re not gonna assume that all companies have this level of expertise when it comes to workplace rights. So a lot of companies are just really busy with their product or their service to stay abreast of these laws and in a way that is understandable. So a lot of employees work for employers that just don’t know. They have no idea. They’re just uneducated. Especially if you’re the first mom, you wanna really approach an employer like that with a spirit of cooperation and education and really say, look, this just came into effect. 

Can you help me? And they’re like, oh my god, I had no idea, usually. The third bucket that I see with employers is employers that actually know the law, but are trying to manipulate their employees into misunderstanding their rights. And that’s usually when we have a lot of legal issues, but they will give misleading information. So to kind of discourage the employee from using their rights or they will provide part of a law, but not all. So they provide incomplete information or they’re just using like, sneaky tricks. To, in a way, try to push their employees out of a job. So, for example, instead of firing you, they will try to convince you to quit. Say that it’s in your best interest because you have your hands full and you have a baby and that baby needs you. You know, these sorts of kind of sneaky tricks is something I see a lot.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

And maybe making your job worse.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Right. To get you to quit, too. So a lot of employers are very careful with moms, especially like during pregnancy. So they will not fire you, but they will just make your job extremely hard. Knowing that you will become so overwhelmed that you’ll quit.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

That’s just depressing.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

I know.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

I know. I hate thinking about that. It’s just, especially as a business owner, someone who has employees, it just… to me, it doesn’t make sense. If you have such a toxic workplace, it can only be bad for business in the end. Yeah, it is. I feel like these acts are better for everyone and they don’t just improve the landscape for people who are pregnant or postpartum, but even creating more expansive leave policies and fairness acts would help people who are caregivers for their elders or another family member. And I remember learning that as a new professor. You know, I thought, well, I’m going to be having kids. Maybe I’ll be a burden on my university. But then I saw all my older colleagues. They were all taking off time for disabilities of their own or to care for their elders. And I was like, okay, it’s not just, you know, people who are in the reproductive stage that need help. Like everybody needs a more supportive workplace.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

That’s exactly right. We’re all going to need these rights at one point, whether it’s for ourselves or for a loved one. And we want to feel empowered, encouraged to use them. You know, and there’s kind of, I remember when I was pregnant and I needed to continue a trial because I had maternity leave around that same time. And the judge just gave me a really hard time and just said, you know, maybe you can find someone else to do this trial, which would mean I would actually lose income. And just was like, you know, I can’t start doing this for everyone. So it was just very difficult. But then with the same judge, a man asked for time off for surgery. And that was just no big deal. And this is something that I see a lot. And, you know, there was and I also say that the man approached this request with boldness and assertiveness and this complete unapologetic attitude of like, this is what I need and this is what’s going to happen. And I would say that for me, I was more timid. I was careful. I was, you know, I was trying to compromise.

And I’m not saying that I caused, you know, there’s a lot of sexism involved here, of course. But I see just when it comes to maternity specifically, there’s just something about it that employers are having a hard time with. When truly it’s like you said, we’re all going to need time off. At some point. And we all have to support each other. I take care of you and then you take care of me. And there’s, there needs to be that reciprocity in the workplace. And it’s important also that fathers, non-birthing parents take time off and and also are there and also take time away from work, because otherwise it’s only going to be the moms fired more and hired less. Because if only the moms are taking time off, then it’s always going to be the moms that are discriminated against.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, I think that we could dive into a whole other big rabbit hole about… parental leave for non-birthing parents. Before we go, I was wondering if you have any examples of organizations, conversations, or leaders that make you feel more hopeful about the future of legal rights for pregnant and parenting employees.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Yes. And it is an organization I co-founded called the Chamber of Mothers. And we’re all just really fired up moms that are advocating in D.C. for paid leave, for child care, for health care, and any and all mother-related issues. And I’m really excited about it because there’s just a tenacity I see in our group. And this is a work of many generations, but there’s just work. We keep showing up and we keep knocking on the doors and we keep doing the meetings and all of the work it takes to run an organization. Um, you know, like the accounting and the billing, there’s just a lot of back end work that people don’t think about. But at the same time, what really lights me up is the beautiful friendships that we’re creating through uniting mothers. And there’s a movement that we’re creating through local chapter meetings where we teach moms how to advocate for their rights. So I’m just delighted to be a part of this group because they’re my friends. And also, I really respect them as moms, as advocates. The energy I think they bring to these conversations is really fresh and really productive. So it’s beautiful when you’re part of something. And I invite anyone to come find this Chamber of Mothers because we’re always doing something. And we always want you to be a part of it. But that’s the organization that really gives me hope right now. And we’re working with a bunch of partners to make sure that people understand what’s at stake. Maternal mortality is skyrocketing. And so we’re just having these important conversations that need to be had and also work. Showing the world and the country that moms are just not going to sit by and let this happen. Like, we’re just, we’re going to do something. You know, these are our babies, so we’re really feisty about it. And I just, I’m just delighted. I just love this group. I love these women. And I think that’s truly how we make change happen, is by uniting our power, our resources, our votes, our influence. We unite, we advocate as a block, as a whole, so that they, the people in power see, oh my god, the moms have consolidated their power. And that’s what they’re truly scared of, is us gathering and rising at a level of power that matches theirs. So that’s what we’re trying to do.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. And I can see the excitement in your face as you were talking about your work. Is there any specific legislation that the Chamber of Mothers is advocating for right now?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

We’re focused on the Momnibus right now quite a lot. And we’re also just doing a ton of work on health care. But generally paid leave is something that we’re always really focused on and we’re having talks about and childcare. So those are kind of our three pillars. But we’re seeing right now health care is where we’re having a lot of discussions. In the post-Dobbs world, there’s just a lot of nuance right now and important discussions that need to be had when it comes to motherhood. And so those are the conversations that we’re having right now.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. So I hope that people listening have an urge to go learn more about their rights and the work you do and the rights for your clients if you’re a birth worker. So could you tell us how we can follow and support your work?

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Yeah, so @mamattorney on Instagram. I also have a membership where I teach you about your rights. So if during this call, you felt like, where do I go find my state rights? So what do I say to my employer when I’m pregnant? How do I ask for more time off when I have postpartum anxiety? I don’t want you to have to Google that because I have done all of that work for you. I have a membership where I have all of the scripts, all of the information you need. And it’s created by us and our team. And we’re truly allies. Because we want you to feel safe and protected. And we want your baby to feel safe and protected. When you’re going to be Googling this information, you might end up at a website by the government, which is not really your ally. They don’t really care necessarily what happens to you. The information also will not reflect all of your state rights. So there’s, there was really no one consolidated place where you can have all of the information you need, specifically to your situation so I created it. So if you’re really worried about which language to use when it comes to your employer I have all of that covered and we just also have discussions about the fear we have around this or or the rage we have around this or you know yesterday on one of our calls you know one of the women was worried about giving notice of her pregnancy and I said you need to look at this as an opportunity because there’s no moms there. You’re the first mom and you’re going to create like a whole new market for them. They’re going to be able to have conversations about families and motherhood and children in the context of their services that they’ve never been able to have before. And you bring that to them like this is an incredible opportunity. You know, they should be so lucky to have you because they have no parents and they have massive blind spots and a lot of their consumers or customers are parents. So you come in now as the expert. So use this as an opportunity to elevate yourself and to really talk about the worth and the value that you have in the workplace. 

So these are conversations that we have in our membership as well to just give you a little pep talk and let you know that, you know, as parents, we are extremely dedicated, motivated workers. The fact that we have to hate others so we can work for our employers, right? Like that’s a massive act of loyalty and really standing firm in your worth and your value. And also expecting your loyalty to your employer to be recognized and reciprocated is really important. And if you do not experience that, then we have to talk about how can we get you there? So we do a lot of career strategy and we talk a lot just about your path and your journey towards professional homecoming. There’s just something that happens when you become a parent and work. You know, you just have less time for nonsense. You have less time for the meetings about the meetings about the meetings about the meetings. You just want to do your job. You just want to, you’re still, for me, it made me more passionate about my work, but also less tolerant for bullshit. Like I just became very efficient, but also no nonsense and really unapologetic. And for me, it became super clear what I wanted to do. And I had to make a few career shifts to get to this point. So I really love helping other parents do that too.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, I love it. I feel like you just gave us a pep talk on the power of parenting after you and I were just reminiscing on our internalized sexism and how afraid we were to ask for accommodations or to tell people that we were pregnant because we saw ourselves as a burden. When you’re right, it really is. It’s a power in speaking as someone who, you know, we run an organization that 80% of the people who work at EBB are parents. It absolutely adds more to our workplace and makes us a better, more fun, more productive company. So I would like all of us to recognize that power in having parents as part of our teams.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Absolutely. I love that. It’s a good ending.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. Thank you, Daphne, so much for joining us. And please, everybody go check out Instagram, The Mama Attorney, and we’ll also link to the website in the show notes. It’s themamattorney.com.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Yes, The Mama Attorney. I’m on Instagram. I have a blog. I have a membership. But if you follow me on Instagram, you will be kept on notice of everything that I’m doing.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, and you post updates about different laws that are passed and other tips and tricks. So thank you so much, Daphne, for joining us today.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

Yeah, and I have some freebies. I have some free templates on how to ask for accommodations, how to ask for pumping accommodations or postpartum accommodations. So I have a couple of guides that you can use if you’re not sure. So you can start there and then just get it on my mailing list also to get all of the updates as well.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Thank you so much, Daphne. We really appreciate you today.

 

Daphne Delvaux:

I appreciate you too. Thank you for your work.

 

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Today’s podcast episode was brought to you by the online workshops for birth professionals taught by Evidence Based Birth® instructors. We have an amazing group of EBB instructors from around the world who can provide you with live, interactive, continuing education workshops that are fully online. We designed Savvy Birth Pro Workshops® to help birth professionals who are feeling stressed by the limitations of the healthcare system. Our instructors also teach the popular Comfort Measures for Birth Professionals® and Labor and Delivery Nurses Workshop®. If you are a nurse or birth professional who wants instruction in massage, upright birthing positions, acupressure for pain relief, and more, you will love the Comfort Measures Workshop®. Visit ebbirth.com/events to find a list of upcoming online workshops.

 

Listening to this podcast is an Australian College of Midwives CPD Recognised Activity.

Preparing for birth? Get your Evidence Based Birth® resources now!

Get Empowered! Learn more…

EBB Pocket Guides are Back in Stock!Get yours now!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This