On paper, pregnant workers in America have several protections to ensure starting or growing their families does not cost them their jobs. In reality, there is no position women work in that remains untouched by pregnancy discrimination. From blue-collar wages to seven-figure salaries, women often see themselves pushed out of their jobs either during pregnancy or shortly after returning from maternity leave.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Commission, pregnancy discrimination falls under two headers: temporary disability and sex discrimination. If a woman can no longer complete her usual work responsibilities because she is pregnant, the appropriate action is to treat her the same as one would a disabled worker until the temporary disability has passed. This includes providing reasonable accommodation, such as modified work duties.
The sex discrimination aspect of pregnancy discrimination speaks to the unfair treatment women often receive due to genetic factors outside of their control. One such factor includes being the biological party responsible for carrying a child to full term. Some women get demoted and even face bullying as their colleagues and employers try to push them out of their jobs and into the home. This is especially taxing on single mothers and lower-income couples.
Forbes recently reported that employers may finally face more pushback thanks to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bill received bipartisan support and would take a lot of the burden off of women to request reasonable accommodations during their pregnancy. The House votes on the bill next. If passed, it becomes the biggest overhaul of pregnancy discrimination laws since 1978.