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9to5 Statement on the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

9to5 Statement on the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

October 31, 2013

Linda Meric, 9to5, (303) 628-0925

October 31, 2013 is the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. 9to5 National Executive Director Linda Meric released the following statement in response:

“Today marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – an important landmark to celebrate. The PDA prohibits discrimination against pregnant women in hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, career development and benefits.

Thirty-five years later, though, pregnancy discrimination occurs far too often – a problem that must be remedied now. Employers often refuse to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. Pregnant workers have been fired for needing temporary, minor adjustments in their job duties, as simple and sensible as carrying a bottle of water on the sales floor or avoiding heavy lifting.

Working families have had enough. Pregnant workers are being forced to choose between the health of their pregnancies and the necessity of earning a living. Women who want and need to continue working throughout their pregnancies have been fired, forced to quit or take unpaid leave. Stacey, a young working mother and member of 9to5 Atlanta, was eight months pregnant with her second child and sprained her ankle. She brought in a doctor’s note saying that she needed to stay off her foot for two days.  Because her employer was not required to accommodate her injury, he fired her, saying that she could reapply for her position once her child was born.  Stacey has been an active member of 9to5 since that time.  She continues to speak out, contacting legislators and encouraging friends and family to join current efforts to protect pregnant workers.

To prevent gender-based discrimination in the workplace, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) has been re-introduced in the U. S. House of Representatives and Senate, and a briefing was held this week. This bill will ensure that pregnant women can work safely during their pregnancies while supporting their families.

Seventy-one percent of mothers are working outside the home. And with forty percent of those women serving as the primary breadwinner, families are suffering when pregnant women lose their jobs. Women in low-wage jobs, a group disproportionately made up of women of color and immigrant workers, are especially affected by workplace pregnancy discrimination. When pregnant women are fired, not only do they lose vital income, but they struggle to re-enter a job market that is harsh for the unemployed, and mothers and pregnant women in particular.

Modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the PWFA is a commonsense bill that requires employers to make the same types of accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they already make for disabilities. Last month, the New York City Council passed a bill providing that protection for pregnant women in The Big Apple.

Let’s expand that protection to women throughout the country. The PWFA will guarantee that women who are pregnant will be treated fairly in the workplace and be able to achieve economic security for themselves and their families. The time for Congress to act is now.”

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About 9to5: Winning justice for working women for 40 years, 9to5 leads the way to create a powerful force for change on issues affecting low-wage women and their families. Through hands-on leadership development, grassroots organizing and policy advocacy, 9to5 organizes women in campaigns for family-supporting jobs with living wages and paid sick days; and stronger protections against workplace discrimination. 9to5 is one of the largest, most respected national membership organizations of working women in the U.S. To learn more or to get involved, visit 9to5.org and find us on Facebook and Twitter.