Expecting a child is typically one of life’s most memorable experiences for a mother. However, pregnancy can cause a woman to face serious obstacles at work – even though it’s illegal.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act became law in 1978. Still, it’s common for employees across the country to face discrimination, including wrongful termination, when they become pregnant.
A new bill could increase protections for pregnant workers. If passed into law, it could reduce the rate of discrimination claims filed against employers in turn.
Job accommodations for expectant mothers
In January, the House Committee on Education and Labor advanced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. According to Forbes, the proposed legislation looks at potential accommodations employers could provide for pregnant workers, rather than solely focusing on preventing expensive, time-consuming discrimination claims.
Numerous factors can contribute to a healthy pregnancy. While some expectant mothers can perform their assigned job duties with no problems, others may feel forced to choose between earning a paycheck and the well-being of a growing fetus.
Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the language of the bill requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to pregnant workers. Though, other than protecting businesses from “an undue hardship,” to what extent that’s required remains relatively unclear.
Implementation of the Act could remain open to legal interpretation, depending on the circumstances of a case. However, it would provide a welcome framework for entrepreneurs who staff locations in different states.
Some options employers might offer pregnant workers include:
- Temporary reassignment to light-duty tasks
- Flexible scheduling
- A chair or stool, despite a no-sitting policy
- The option to work from home
Employment rights may be important for workers who are pregnant or consider having a baby. Although many related protections are already in effect, some lawmakers believe shifting responsibility to employers may be long overdue.