It's hard to imagine that in the 21st Century a woman could be fired from her job for addressing the needs of her pregnancy. Yet a woman was fired for simply drinking water to stay hydrated, legal under current the law. Today, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the lead sponsor of the bill, and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced legislation to protect pregnant women from discrimination.
"Small accommodations by employers are not too much to ask and can make all the difference in a mom and a developing baby's life, and they can help employers keep dedicated workers," said Rep. Davis, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "It is unfortunate that Congress needs to even address this issue since any sensible person would consider it inconceivable to fire a pregnant woman for trying to care for the health of herself and her baby."
Most employers accommodate pregnant workers, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the number of pregnancy-related discrimination charges has jumped by 35% in the past decade.
Pregnant women across the nation have been fired from their jobs for drinking water or needing to refrain form heavy lifting. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to allow for reasonable accommodations for their pregnant employees, such as extra bathroom breaks or a stool for a job that may require continuous standing.
The legislation does not create new law but clarifies existing law enacted under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. California led the way in protecting pregnant workers by enacting similar law 20 years ago.