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Forced to Choose Between My Job and Starting a Family? Where's Congress When You Need Them?

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May 10, 2013

Earlier this year, I wrote about being pushed out of my job because I was pregnant. It’s still hard for me to believe that I was put in the position of choosing between staying on the job while pregnant, and the health of my baby.

I have a good job at United Parcel Service (UPS) and had worked there for almost 10 years. I am a full time driver, and that work can be very demanding and strenuous. I often work up to 14 hours a day, and during the rush seasons, like Mother’s Day, the size and weight of the packages explodes. Despite that, I like my job and am glad to be able to support myself and my family.

But all of that changed when I became pregnant. When I learned about my pregnancy, I informed my supervisors. Because I was worried about the health of my pregnancy, I asked them, on numerous occasions, for a temporary light duty position. UPS told me that none were available. I was shocked because I know that UPS had offered temporary work assignments to several other people. In fact, when I was injured in the past, UPS allowed me to do light duty assignments like washing windows and administrative work.

I simply couldn’t understand why UPS wouldn’t make the same accommodation when the health of my baby was at stake. Instead, I was forced to leave work altogether for the duration of my pregnancy, even though I was willing and able to keep working.

 UPS Pregnancy Discrimination

Julie Mayer and her daughter.

This is wrong and unfair. UPS shouldn’t have made me choose between my salary and benefits and the health of my pregnancy, especially when they have the ability to provide me and other mothers-to-be with a temporary accommodation.

There are laws, like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy but some companies like UPS are ignoring the law. And that’s why we need the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (PWFA).

I’m glad to hear that the PWFA is being introduced in Congress next week and I hope every member of Congress will support it. This bill would allow women continue to do their jobs and support their families by requiring employers to make the same reasonable accommodations for pregnancy as they do when a worker is injured. It will make it crystal clear to employers that they can’t push women out of the workforce when they are pregnant.

A woman should never have to choose between earning a living and a safe, healthy pregnancy. Every member of Congress should co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Will yours?

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