It’s clear that our current federal framework isn’t working to ensure equality and justice for working women and families. Forty-one years later, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would fulfill the promise of the PDA, helping end pregnancy discrimination once and for all. It’s time for Congress to take action.
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.
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.
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.