On November 12, we hosted a panel with the Birnbaum Women's Leadership Network at NYU Law, “Long Overdue: Eradicating Pregnancy Discrimination and Other Barriers to Workplace Equality.” ABB Co-Founder and Co-President Dina Bakst was thrilled to join Congressman Jerrold Nadler—champion of the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—on the panel.
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.
Pregnant workers represented by co-counsel A Better Balance, Mehri & Skalet, PLLC and the National Women’s Law Center announced that on November 14, 2019 the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois granted preliminary approval to a settlement in the amount of $14 million in the matter of Borders v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-0506 (S.D. Ill.). The settlement will pay for claims by pregnant workers at Walmart that they had requested but were denied workplace accommodations between March 19, 2013 and March 5, 2014.
Almost 41 years ago, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to guarantee equal opportunity for millions of working women. But as we pointed out in our recent report Long Overdue, too often, pregnant workers are still being treated as second-class citizens.
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.
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.