Statistics show that about 75 percent of women will be pregnant
and working at some point of their life. Despite the passing of the
Pregnancy Discrimination Act 35 years ago, reports show that
pregnant women continue to be treated poorly by their
Illinois is one of only eight states that requires employers to
have certain accommodations for pregnant workers. Nationwide, some
laws and regulations are in place regarding temporary disabilities
and pregnancy, yet working pregnant women can still get caught in
Today, the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) and A Better
Balance (ABB) released
"It Shouldn't Be a Heavy Lift: Fair Treatment for Pregnant
Workers," a new report addressing the growing concerns
with pregnant women and accommodations in the workplace. Strongly
focusing on women with low-wage jobs and jobs commonly held by men,
it details how employers are denying pregnant women the same basic
accommodations commonly given to workers with disabilities and
NWLC Vice President and General Counsel Emily Martin said in a
press release on the report that there is no reason for pregnancy
to be a "job-buster." Asking for accommodations, such as honoring a
weight lifting restriction or sitting rather than standing, are too
often the first steps towards losing a job or forced unpaid
"Women make up almost half of the labor force but all too often,
they are forced to make an impossible choice: risk their own health
and pregnancy to keep a job or lose their income at the moment they
can least afford it," Martin said.
"Pregnant workers are ready, willing and able to continue
working but they are often forced out by employers who refuse to
make minor accommodations. These women and their families pay a
steep price when they're pushed out of jobs."
The report blames widespread confusion about legal regulations
and an absence of federal agency guidance for the mistreatment. It
recommends a variety of solutions, including a federal agency that
manages and guides employers with accommodating pregnant women and
expanding state laws to further protect the women.
It also says the passing of the Pregnant Women Fairness Act
would bring much needed clarity to the complex situation and get
rid of the double standard that exists for pregnant women and
disabled workers. This act, introduced in both the Senate and House
of Representatives in May 2013, was designed to address the
discrimination and require employers to make reasonable
Dina Bakst, ABB Co-Founder and Co-President, said in the press
release that providing basic rights for pregnant women shouldn't be
so complicated. She said keeping pregnant women on the job and
healthy will keep costs down, retain employees and build loyalty
"Let's step out of the dark ages and recognize that pregnant
women are an important part of the workforce," Bakst said.
For more information or to read the report in its entirety,
visit NWLC.org or ABetterBalance.org.
Lindsey is Chicago Parent's summer 2013 intern. She is a senior at Ball State University.
See more of Lindsey's stories here.
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