'When I told my company I was pregnant, they fired me." "I was delighted to be hired by a company I loved. Then my boss made me promise not to get pregnant for a while."

In last October's Labor Pains, I discussed maternal job rights in "Labor law protects expectant and new mothers — to a point." Today, I would like to address a new legal concept known as "maternity harassment," or matahara in the syllabic acronym engendered by this growing — and disturbing — trend.

So what's behind the sudden increase in reports of matahara? And why now? I just don't get it.