When Natasha Jackson asked her employer for a modest pregnancy accommodation to stay healthy and working, her employer instead forced her off the job as the highest ranking account executive at a Rent-A-Center. They pushed her onto unpaid leave and ultimately terminated her. Without steady income, she and her husband had to abandon their plan to buy a house and were left unable to support their growing family. But now, Natasha is advocating for change: this week, she headed to Capitol Hill to call on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, so women across the country no longer must face the impossible choice between their health and their economic security like she did. “I am asking you to stand up for women like me so we can have an equal opportunity to support our families while protecting our health,” Natasha said.
Update (June 27, 2019): Governor Mills signed the bill into law and it is set to go into effect September 19, 2019!
Today, after years of hard work from advocates, the Maine legislature passed what will be the nation’s 27th law guaranteeing pregnant workers the clear right to reasonable accommodations when needed to keep them safe and on the job.
The bill would make it illegal for Maine employers to discriminate against pregnant workers by denying them reasonable accommodations, if they can make those accommodations without undue hardship.
Examples of reasonable accommodations can include more frequent or longer breaks, modification of work schedules, different seating or equipment, relief from lifting requirements, or temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous role. The law will also provides protections for breastfeeding mothers.
This victory is thanks to the hard work of advocates including the Maine Women’s Lobby, as well Representative Anne Carney’s leadership in sponsoring the bill and the support of the Maine Human Rights Commission. We’re proud to have worked closely with local advocates and legislators to help move this legislation forward and ensure the strongest possible protections for pregnant workers in Maine. We look forward to the bill being signed into law.
In our May report “Long Overdue”, we documented the many, many cases of pregnancy discrimination that are still occurring across the U.S, forcing women out of the workforce and compromising their economic security and ability to provide for their family. Besides protecting thousands of pregnant workers in Maine from discrimination, this law will continue to pave the way toward making the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act a reality.