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Maryland Stands Up for Pregnant Workers

Allie Bohm,
Policy Counsel,
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May 17, 2013

Yesterday, Maryland’s governor signed into law legislation protecting pregnant women from workplace discrimination. This should be a no-brainer.

Picture this: you have a good job, you have medical benefits, you’re financially stable, and you decide it’s time to start a family. Sounds reasonable, right? But what would you do if your employer decided to place you on unpaid leave and cut your medical benefits because you’re pregnant? You might take your employer to court.

That’s just what Peggy Young, a UPS package driver from Maryland, did with support from the ACLU, the ACLU of Maryland and over 10 other organizations. As crazy as it sounds, UPS’s policy was to offer light duty assignments to a variety of workers who were temporarily unable to perform their regular tasks: workers who were injured on the job, workers with a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, workers who lose their commercial driving licenses, and workers involved in car accidents. But not pregnant women. And, an appeals court, in a decision that defies logic, held that to require UPS to give pregnant workers the same kinds of accommodations it gives other workers would be to grant special “most favored nation status” to pregnant employees.

Fortunately, Maryland realized just how seriously flawed that decision was and, with the ACLU of Maryland’s support, enacted legislation requiring employers to provide the same treatment to pregnant employees that they already are obligated to provide to other employees with temporary physical restrictions. Families in Maryland can rest easier knowing that their jobs and benefits will be safe when they decide to have kids.

But our work isn’t done. A number of other states are considering similar bills, and a nationwide fix bill, called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, was just introduced in Congress. We’ll keep working to ensure that employers can’t treat pregnant women worse than other workers who have certain job limitations, and we encourage you to join with us: call your members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act today.

You can find the phone number for your representative here and your senators here.

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