“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 Lauren, a Community Advocate with A Better Balance.
I’m from Suffolk, Virginia, and I work in a shipyard. I reached out to ABB when I was about 7 months pregnant, because I was starting to have some complications like chronic back pain, along with severe nausea to the point where my doctor actually recommended – and wrote me a note – to request I continue working from home instead of coming back into the office, since I was able to do my job from home. When I got that note and took it down to the clinic, my manager suggested to me that I take a leave of absence. This was not my best choice, because I also need to take a leave of absence when I have the baby; you can only take up to 12 weeks, and that would have cut into my time.
Distraught, I was looking online for some resources and I came across the [Virginia] Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. I reached out to A Better Balance, and they gave me information regarding the Virginia Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and what it covers. It gave me so much knowledge to the point where I actually felt comfortable going back to my manager and to my HR department and saying, “Hey, you all have to honor this act. This act says that the accommodations I requested are not extreme, they should be able to be met, and my safety matters, my baby’s safety matters.”
“I’m pregnant but I’m not a liability. I’m still important, and I’m still able to do my job, I just need this help, and it’s a reasonable request.”
So once I got into contact with HR and had that conversation with them, it got approved just like that. I think the Virginia Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is so important because it lets people know that I’m pregnant but I’m not a liability. I’m still important, and I’m still able to do my job, I just need this help, and it’s a reasonable request.
I’m working from home now, which is what my doctor asked. I’m safe, and my baby’s safe and healthy, and I’m just so grateful.
This blog post is based on a video transcript, and has been edited for length and clarity.