We speak with pregnant workers every day who face an impossible choice. What do I do if my doctor advises that I request a simple accommodation to maintain a healthy pregnancy, like a stool to sit on or assistance with heavy lifting, but my employer won’t provide them? Do I keep earning my paycheck when I need it most, or follow my doctor’s orders? The women featured here faced such a choice.
These women's stories reveal the devastating consequences that are unfolding around the country because the U.S. lacks an explicit statutory right to pregnancy accommodations.
On August 26th, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day—a day commemorating the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote in 1920. This victory, it’s important to note, was not realized for all women until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when people of color were explicitly given the right to vote (a right that is still elusive for many today).
Returning to work after having a child can be a big transition, especially if you are breastfeeding. Nursing parents need break time and space for pumping breast milk at work, and possibly other changes or accommodations to allow them to stay healthy and continue breastfeeding while doing their job.
We spoke with The New York Times Parenting for their recent guide to knowing and exercising your rights when pregnant and working. “Women need to know their rights and feel like they can take advantage of the law for it to be meaningful,” ABB Co-President Dina Bakst told reporter Robin Shulman. The piece highlighted our state-by-state guide to the legal protections available to expecting and new parents.
Over the weekend, The New York Times published a powerful article featuring our client in Tennessee, Theresa Gonzales. Theresa, an admissions counselor and the sole breadwinner of her family who was about to become a first-time mother, told her employer, South College, she hoped to take six weeks of unpaid leave then return to her job. Instead, she was fired just days after giving birth because of a discriminatory policy only allowing a maximum of five days off from work. As we told the Times, Theresa’s story is outrageously common.
Starting June 27, Kentucky women who are working while pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or who need to express breastmilk at work are protected under the law from discrimination. Kentucky law now gives workers an explicit right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations at work, so they can stay healthy and safe while continuing to earn a paycheck to support their family.