Lifting restrictions, more frequent rest and bathroom breaks, being able to carry a water bottle with you during your work day — these are common needs for pregnant women on the job and yet the kinds of things that can put those jobs in jeopardy. So while Republicans were busy killing a veterans jobs bill all to spite President Obama and to try and throw the election their way, women’s rights advocates in Congress introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
The bill is designed to fill in the gaps with current pregnancy discrimination prohibitions. And with a record number of women, and pregnant women, in the workforce, we are well past due for these kinds of protections.
“It has been nearly 35 years since we banned pregnancy discrimination in this country. Yet pregnant women are still being fired, forced out of their jobs and denied employment and promotion opportunities – and it hurts them, their families and our economy” said Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families in a statement. “More than three in five pregnant women in the United States (62 percent) are in the labor force and their incomes are critical to their families’ economic security, especially when a new child is on the way. Yet, too often, pregnant women are forced out of their jobs or denied minor job modifications – even though employers routinely make similar modifications for male employees who have been injured, had heart attacks or are temporarily impaired. This is unfair and unacceptable.”
The bill, in its essence, simply equalizes the playing field for pregnant employees. “By ensuring the same workplace protections for women with pregnancy-related limitations as the protections already in place for workers with similar limitations, it would prevent employers from forcing pregnant women out of the workplace and help ensure that employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women who want to continue working,” Ness explained.
Without those kinds of protections, women’s jobs are vulnerable. And when their jobs are vulnerable, so is the well-being of their families.
“Pregnant workers face discrimination in the workplace every day, which is an inexcusable detriment to women and working families in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Casey said in a statement. “This legislation will finally extend fairness to pregnant women so that they can continue to contribute to a productive economy while progressing through pregnancy in good health.”
The fate of the bill largely rests in the outcome of the November election. Republicans have made it clear their singular mission is to make it more difficult for women to stay in the workplace, so there’s little reason to believe they’d support a bill that would cut against that very mission. But if Democrats make advances this election, Republicans will be hard pressed to successfully block such a measure.
Photo from Thinkstock.
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