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I Don't Care What Your Doctor Says. You're Fired!

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October 31, 2013

Here’s the story: a pregnant woman is working, paying her bills, paying taxes, and taking care of her family. She’s in the workforce, contributing to the economy, and trying to carve out a little piece of the American dream by doing what everybody says you’re supposed to do: work hard, be productive.

For millions of pregnant working women, the job stays exactly the same. But that’s not true for everyone, especially if your job requires lifting heavy boxes, climbing ladders, or standing for 12 hours at the cash register. In situations like those, a pregnant worker may need a temporary and often minor job accommodation that would allow her to keep working.

When I say “temporary job accommodations,” I’m talking about a stool to sit on, permission to carry a bottle of water, or extra bathroom breaks. Sometimes this includes a light duty assignment, so a pregnant worker doesn’t have to lift heavy boxes when her doctor told her not to lift heavy boxes. Does any of this sound unreasonable to you?

But for too many pregnant women, what happens when they make these simple requests? They’re fired or forced to take unpaid leave.

So what happens? A pregnant worker is denied a paycheck and health insurance at a time when she needs it most and even though she wants to keep working and she can keep working. She’s fired or pushed out even though she’s only asking for the same flexibility that her employer provides to workers who are disabled.

And sometimes, because she can’t afford to go without a paycheck, she stays on the job and puts her health and her pregnancy at risk.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act turns 35 today, and it prohibits discrimination against employees based on pregnancy. But it’s not working the way it should, and employers are callously pushing pregnant women out of their jobs.

This has to stop. We need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This bill would make it crystal clear that employers must provide reasonable accommodations for limitations caused by pregnancy if that accommodation would not place an undue burden on the company.

This is a bill that every member of Congress should support. But they won’t until you ask them. Reach out to your member of Congress today and ask them to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act here.

You can also join us later today, October 31, from 2-3PM ET for a Tweet chat on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act hosted by National Women’s Law Center. We’ll be tweeting from @ACLULive, and you can participate by using the hashtag #PWFA.

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