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.
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.
Policies that support working women and families are often not only a matter of economic justice, but also an urgent matter of public health. On National Women’s Health Day, here are four federal policies we must pass to ensure the health of working women and their families.
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.