When we first spoke with Takirah in June, she was in an awful situation. She was pregnant and high-risk, and had just been forced off her job of seven years—all because her employer refused to provide her with a modest accommodation that would allow her to stay healthy and continue earning a paycheck.
Takirah’s job as an assistant family service worker sometimes involves lifting babies and young children while transporting them to and from family services. When she first submitted a note from her doctor indicating that she was pregnant and should not lift anything over 15 pounds, her scheduling supervisor congratulated her and happily agreed to assign her to cases involving only older children or adults for the remainder of her pregnancy. For the next two weeks, Takirah continued to perform her job successfully.
Then HR entered the picture. Takirah received a call out of the blue one day from an HR representative who informed her that they would not permit her to return to work due to her lifting restriction.
“I felt angry, discriminated against, and confused,” Takirah said. “So many thoughts ran though my head. How would I care for my family and pay my bills? I’m only three months pregnant, my medical insurance will be depleted within ninety days—what will I do then? How will I survive with no employment?”
Desperate to get her job back, Takirah asked her doctor to remove her lifting restriction. He refused, and instead provided her with information about pregnant workers’ right to receive reasonable accommodations under the New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—a law that A Better Balance worked hard to pass.
Using this information about the law, Takirah tried vigorously to advocate for herself. She shared it with her employer and even asked her union for help. She was unsuccessful.
Soon after that, Takirah reached A Better Balance’s free and confidential legal helpline. We agreed to represent Takirah and contact her employer to explain their obligations to provide reasonable pregnancy accommodations under New Jersey law.
Approximately two weeks later, Takirah’s employer offered her a higher-paying lighter duty position until she gives birth in December.
“It was the best news I heard in months! A Better Balance assisted me with getting my job, courage, and dignity back and didn’t ask me for any money. They did it out of the goodness of their heart. It was an experience I will never forget.”
If you believe you may be experiencing pregnancy discrimination, please contact our free and confidential legal helpline to learn about the legal protections you may have available to you.
*Takirah shared her story at our Fall Celebration to highlight the impact our hotline can have on helping pregnant workers to stay employed throughout their pregnancies.