“Workers’ Voices” is a series on A Better Balance’s blog highlighting the firsthand experiences of workers from across the country. For some workers we are in touch with, they are covered by federal, state, or local workplace protections that make a world of difference in their ability to care for themselves and their loved ones. For others, their experiences highlight the glaring gaps that remain in our laws.
The below is a story from Martha* (*name changed to protect anonymity), who called A Better Balance’s free work-family legal helpline and agreed to share her experience.
I worked in a physical therapy clinic in Pennsylvania for several years. Last year I told my boss that I was pregnant and that I was concerned about the rising COVID-19 cases. I explained that my ob-gyn wrote a letter stating that I should not have further prolonged contact from unmasked patients due to my pregnancy and increased health risks.
Even though I had already made arrangements with my co-workers for my absence, my boss did not accommodate me and terminated my employment. During these tough economic times, I had to find medical coverage and a way to pay for my prenatal care. If I would have received the accommodation I needed, then I would have been able to continue to work and earn an income. I also struggled with depression throughout the remainder of my pregnancy because of my job loss.
I believe Congress should pass the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act so women like me can continue working in a safe, healthy environment without fear of losing their employment.