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Protecting the New Born

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Protecting the New Born

A policy that forbids any employee capable of reproducing from working with lead is a policy that interferes with the employees' freedom of choice. Many women viewed Johnson Controls' policy regarding fetal protection as another way to exclude women from the workplace.

Johnson Controls refused to hire any women who could not prove that they could not get pregnant and there were no exceptions. In 1990, only twelve (12) women worked at the Johnson factory in Bennington, Vermont. The reason why so few women work at this facility was because of Johnson Controls' fetal protection policy. Women who worked for Johnson Controls felt that they were telling the world that they were sterile.

Johnson Controls made lead automobile batteries for Sears, Goodyear, and others. Inside the plant the air contained tiny toxic particles of lead and lead oxide. Scientific studies revealed that lead could lead to damage of the brain, retardation, miscarriages, damage to the central nervous system, and other disorders of a fetus. The toxic lead particles and lead oxide can stay in the bloodstream for a considerable amount of time, but according to Johnson Controls, the levels of lead at their plants was low enough for adults, but too high for children and fetuses. Therefore, even if a woman that worked for Johnson Controls found out that she was pregnant and left the job, the lead would still be in her bloodstream long enough to possibly harm the fetus. Johnson Controls' stance "was protecting the health of unborn children"9.

Johnson Controls' position was in line with the National Centers for Disease Control's recommendation that "women of childbearing age be excluded from jobs involving sign...

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...orth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 270.

2 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 271.

3 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 271.

4 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 271.

5 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 271.

6 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 271.

7 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 272.

8 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 272.

9Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 270.

10 Shaw, W. (1999). Business Ethics. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, California, pg. 271.
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