Sen. Frank Lautenberg has joined with three other U.S. senators to propose a bill that would strengthen the protections women would have against discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy. The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act would require that employers reasonably accommodate employees who are pregnant.
Federal law already gives pregnant women some protection against employment discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed in 1978. But the bill's sponsor, Sen. Bob Casey, says that the current protections are no longer adequate. There have been many examples of female workers who have been terminated for reasons related to their pregnancy, some of which are cited in the bill.
In one instance provided by the National Women's Law Center, one woman was asked by her employer to lift heavy boxes and climb ladders while she was far along in her pregnancy. She refused and was fired. In another example, a pregnant woman drank frequently from a bottle of water during the workday at the advice of her doctor. Her supervisor fired her from her position at the retail store for refusing to stop drinking from the bottle.
It is unknown what chances the bill has for passage in the Senate. A similar will was introduced in the House this spring, but it has experienced little progress since that time and observers expect that it will not even make it to the House floor.
Over time, the law has extended greater protections to more groups in order to prevent employers and coworkers from discriminating against employees based on their gender, race, religion, age and other distinguishing characteristics. It is up to those who have been the victim of workplace discrimination or wrongful termination to use the law to their advantage.
Source: The Examiner, "New senate bill would add protection for pregnant working women," Sheila Guilloton, Sept. 20, 2012
• A variety of conduct can constitute a violation of federal and state workplace discrimination laws, including disparity in pay, reduced chances for training and differences in job placement. You can learn more by visiting our Mercer County employment discrimination page.