Residents of the District of Columbia and surrounding areas will want to know of a law that has just passed the House. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, enacted in 1978, does not go far enough in protecting pregnant women. The new legislation, called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, gives more protection and extends it.
According to USA Today, while the former act addressed discrimination, this act would have employers make reasonable accommodations for women that are pregnant.
What are reasonable accommodations for pregnant women?
In addition to making it illegal to deny requests for accommodation, employees might ask for the following:
- Additional breaks for eating
- Additional breaks for using the restroom
- Limited heavy lifting
- Stools for resting on
- And more
A healthy pregnancy is necessary
Standing for long periods may not be a problem in some workplaces, but in others, it’s a problem. Extended standing is not recommended, as it has a link to premature labor in women. The intention is that the bill will allow pregnant women to ask for accommodations.
Many jobs involve standing. These include teachers, those who work in a nursing home and nurses. People in these professions are usually women.
Women of color may face more discrimination when pregnant
From 2011 to 2015, Black women filed nearly 29 percent of pregnancy discrimination charges, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. Fear of retaliation by employers kept them from asking for accommodations. Studies note that women of color are four times more likely to die in childbirth, which may reflect the fact that they do physically demanding work while being pregnant.
This is an area where employment law needs to note what is happening in society. No woman needs to choose between keeping a job and the health of their baby. If you need help with an employment law issue, it may be best to contact an attorney with experience in this type of law. They might know how to successfully advocate for you.