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Don’t Think Pregnancy Discrimination Is A Problem? Think Again.

All women in the workplace are at risk of discrimination because of a pregnancy. But, the practice may be most common among supervisors of those most vulnerable to lost wages, a diminished paycheck or a lost job: women in low-wage positions.

In a recent story about the recurring problem of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, NPR News profiled a former account representative for Rent-A-Center, Natasha Jackson. Before Jackson was pregnant, she would occasionally help with customer deliveries; after she was pregnant, Jackson’s coworkers stepped in to help out with deliveries. All seemed to be progressing without issue.

But, one day Jackson arrived at work only to be summoned for a meeting with HR and her district manager. Another pregnant employee had been injured while lifting and Jackson was requested to take a two-week paid leave and secure a doctor’s approval to return to work. Her doctor restricted her from lifting anything over 20 pounds, a customary doctor’s order for a pregnant woman.

After that, Jackson reports, she was slowly pushed out of work. But, since she was the larger breadwinner for her growing family, losing her job was simply not an option, nor was taking unpaid leave as the HR director suggested.

Despite an over-30-year-old law that prohibits discrimination against woman because of a pregnancy, the aptly named Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it still happens all too often in the workplace. Advancements in protections were made with the amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act that included provisions for pregnancy-related impairments, there is still room for improvement. Many hope that, for the sake of hardworking, expectant moms like Natasha Jackson, the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act will finally be the solution to ending pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

Source: MPR News, “Pushed Off The Job While Pregnant,” June 11, 2013

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