2. The policy should have the following characteristics: gender neutral and accommodation for religious
beliefs if applicable.
CASE 7.17 – ON-THE-JOB FETAL INJURIES
Many employers are affected by the Johnson Controls case. Hospitals with technicians and other
personnel in x-ray and nuclear medicine, nuclear plant workers, and VDT workers would be affected. Any
exclusionary policies must be eliminated.
The lawsuits against employers for the children who were exposed to toxins through their mothers’
employers continue. The doctrine of assumption of risk applies to knowingly assuming a risk, which the
mothers did. However, the argument in the cases is that the fetuses did not consent to that exposure and
are not subject to their mothers’ waivers. How does this argument gel with the pro-choice positions on
mother’s right to choose?
Answers and Key Discussion Items
1. The policy was designed to protect women of child-bearing capability and their fetuses. The policy of
Johnson Controls had the best intentions and was based on sound legal advice: avoid liability for
Freedom of choice is a good alternative with the exception of possible problems for the fetus who is
The issue here is one of balancing the mother’s rights for equal employment with the child’s rights of
freedom from injury, damage, etc. The difficulty lies in dictating the conduct of the mother for the
2. As the director of human resources, faced with the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court
decision, I would quickly develop a disclosure statement and waiver. All workers would be given both.
3. The legislatures and employers have the choice of limiting liability of employers for the choices the
women make in terms of exposure to toxins. However, such a decision is a political risk. The liability
limiting legislation would have the effect of many women not choosing the jobs. Have the students
evaluate the right to a higher paying job vs. the rights of the unborn children of the women. Given the
4. Discuss with the students the value we place on human life, protection of the unborn, the inability of
the child to speak as to its safety. Is it a justice or utilitarianism decision?
CASE 7.18 – OFFICE ROMANCES