Work Life Balance

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Would Be An Actual Mother’s Day Gift

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mother's dayYou don’t even need to be a mother to know that pregnant women regularly get treated poorly in the workplace. That along with a mere 12-week maternity leave is just one of the many modern joys of being an American mommy. So for those many, many women who don’t have enough sick days, vacation time, and short-term disability to construct a maternity leave, there is currently no protection for say avoiding heavy lifting at the job or even carrying around a bottle of water.

As Motherlode’s KJ Dell’Antonia reports, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act currently protects pregnant ladies on a federal level from discrimination in the workplace. Laugh at that as you will, but KJ points out that “protection against discrimination does not require accommodation.” Insisting that a pregnant woman be treated “equally” in a work environment gets tricky when the job description includes carrying mail, like one UPS worker who was denied the “light duty” during her pregnancy. Or perhaps pushing wheelchairs and moving tables, like one nursing home director who was fired after requesting some help.

But that could all change thanks to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, introduced today by House members from New York and California, which would federally require accommodation for those expecting:

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, says Mr. [Jerold Nadler], will “require an employer to make a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, unless this creates an undue hardship on the employer.”

The legislation would also prevent employers from using a worker’s pregnancy to deny her opportunities on the job, force her to take an accommodation that she does not want or need, or force her onto leave when another reasonable accommodation could help keep her on the job — all rules that should already be familiar to employers, thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act.

So while a fancy brunch or a big bouquet of flowers certainly will have the Hallmark industries celebrating mothers, a more authentic way to show appreciation for ladies with kids would include acknowledging their needs in the workplace. Because all those chocolate truffles and sugary Mother’s Day cards aside, some would sooner ask a pregnant woman to risk her baby’s health than empathize with the fact that she is carrying a human.

(photo: greenland/ Shutterstock)