Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Accomodating Expecting Employees
While some female employees may find themselves climbing up the corporate ladder, others find themselves the subject of discrimination, for being pregnant in the workplace. Last month Khorrami, LLP blogged about the increase in pregnancy discrimination and the disadvantages female employees face. Yesterday, new legislation was introduced to help protect pregnant employees still working. The “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA) and George Miller (D-CA) was introduced in New York and California, and will require employers to make fair accommodations for their expecting employees.
Accommodations are often needed by pregnant employees, who need to stay employed in order to provide for their growing family, but find it more difficult to continue working through their pregnancy. For example, being on your feet as a sales cashier is straining and tiring for anyone, let alone for pregnant women. But only seven states, including California, provide seating for employees during shifts, while other pregnant employees are still denied a stool to sit on during their shifts. Some pregnant employees even face termination, when found to be carrying water bottles during their shifts to stay hydrated or when they can no longer can perform strenuous tasks like picking up heavy boxes. These simple accommodations can easily be made, yet some women report being penalized in the workplace for such requests. With the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, pregnant women would not be unnecessarily forced out of jobs or denied reasonable accommodations that would allow them to continue working.
For expecting employees, it may be hard to juggle the advice from doctors to rest with the expectations of a demanding boss. It ultimately puts the employee at great risk. Currently, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, which establishes minimum paid maternity leave for new mothers, protects some pregnancy discrimination, but there still is no legal requirement that for employers to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations. With mother’s day just around the corner, maybe this is exactly what working moms need.
Image courtesy of telegraph.co.uk