Highlights

  • Study released June 18 from the National Women’s Law Center and A Better Balance
  • Pregnant women in physically demanding or hazardous jobs are more likely to require accommodation (such as retail and labor), especially because prolonged standing, long work hours, irregular work schedules, heavy lifting, and high physical activity can lead to an increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees women 12 weeks, unpaid, job secured leave; however, many jobs force women to use this leave while they are still pregnant and could still work.  If a woman is unable to work after the 12 weeks, many jobs will often fire her
  • The United States is the only first world country without mandatory paid maternity leave
  • Only eight states offer job protection beyond what the federal government provides (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas)
  • The report is pushing for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was introduced in Congress in 2012 and reintroduced this year; it would provide clear and unambiguous rules that would require employees to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees; it also would make it illegal for employees to deny employment to pregnant job applicants and force a pregnant employee to take leave
  • Low-wage jobs offer little flexibility for pregnant women while women in jobs traditionally dominated by men typically face discrimination, harassment and gender stereotypes.
  • Women are working later into their pregnancies, with 82% working into the last month
  • 41% of women are the primary breadwinner and and 23% are co-breadwinners

This type of discrimination will clearly prevent women from moving up the career ladder, and with so many of them being either breadwinners or co-breadwinners, this affects not only their career, but the income that they can provide for their family.  Obviously moving up the ladder equals a bigger paycheck to help pay for that new baby.  The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act looks like a great bill that would help end the practice of discrimination.  The only thing I wish it included is paid maternity leave, but I suppose this is a good start.  Although changing the mindset of discrimination is much more difficult, it is a beginning step.  We will have to wait and see what happens with it, but in the meantime it would be necessary to contact your senators and try to get this bill pushed through.

As always, go ahead and leave your comments.  And take a look at the Better Balance study; it has some really fascinating stories about first hand discrimination.

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