Report: Pregnant Workers Routinely Face Discrimination

Although federal laws are established to prohibit any mistreatment, a recent report explains that pregnant women are routinely denied basic accommodations and even fired. The report cites that this discrimination is even more prevalent among pregnant workers in low-wage jobs. Employers have been found refusing to provide accommodations to pregnant women that would normally be given to other employees with disabilities. If you or a loved one has been the victim of discrimination as a result of your pregnancy, you may need the assistance of an experienced Tennessee employment lawyer.

The report by the National Women’s Law Center and A Better Balance centers on discrimination specifically highlighting numerous cases of women faced with the impossible choice of protecting their job or their health. These women in low wage earning jobs lost their income, insurance, and sometimes even their job after being denied temporary accommodation. Some of the examples cited in the report include:

• A worker in a Washington D.C. fast food restaurant allegedly was fired after requesting to drink water and eat snacks during her break and subsequently being denied.
• A Long Island cashier says that she was forced to stand on her feet often up to ten hours a day and was forced to take unpaid leave after being denied a request to sit down.
• A worker in a New York supermarket who says that she was terminated after being denied a transfer request.
• A Maryland truck driver claims that she was forced off of her job and lost her health insurance after being told that she was too much of a liability to the company to keep working while pregnant.

Many low-wage earning workers can be vulnerable to these types of discrimination because they are more likely to have both physically demanding job tasks and employers who are less likely to oblige. Despite these facts, several federal laws have been enacted as a means of preventing discrimination against employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all provide some means of protection for pregnant workers. The Americans with Disabilities act was specifically amended in 2008, to include impairments that may arise in pregnancy including hypertension and severe nausea.

While these federal laws provide some means of protection, courts have interpreted each of these laws differently. Some courts have allocated more protection to pregnant workers while others have provided less protection depending on the certain law. As a result, Congress has introduced a new bill known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in an attempt to provide a clear and unambiguous rule that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers who need them.

If you have experienced any form of discrimination from your employer as a pregnant worker, we encourage you to contact our experienced Tennessee employment lawyers at The Higgins Firm. You may have a possible action against your current or former employer. Our Nashville based attorneys will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

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