Rights for pregnant women have come a long way since women mainstreamed into the workforce. Over 50 years ago, many women were often discriminated by employers because of pregnancies. Employers use to be able to harass, fire and treat expecting mothers unequally compared to their coworkers. It was not until The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was passed that mothers were finally receiving rights in the workplace. Since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act passed, women’s pregnancy rights have continued to rise. New legislative is constantly being reformed and improved in order to supply rights to demanding pregnant mothers.
The following are Five rights that have made the most impact on pregnant working mothers.
1. A woman can not be fired because she is pregnant.
Employers have often seen as pregnancy a disability. Afraid that the women are not able to perform to their fullest capability, some employers see that it would be easier to fire a pregnant woman rather than accommodate her needs. However, with The Pregnancy Discrimination Act in place this action is illegal.
2. New mothers can pump breast milk in the workplace.
One of the newest rights that women have gained is the ability to pump breast milk in the workplace. This right is due to the Obama administration under the Affordable Care Act. According to Annalyn Kurtz, “The Affordable Care Act requires employers provide reasonable breaks to new mothers to pump breast milk for up to one year after a child's birth”.
3. A woman can not get fired if she has an abortion or is thinking of an abortion.
The choice to have an abortion is completely up to the woman. That right is preserved by The Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
4. A pregnant woman can receive special accommodations if she has a medical condition that is related to pregnancy.
Although pregnancy is not considered a disability, some women may have associated health problems with pregnancy. According to MedlinePlus.com, some of these conditions can include, high blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome, kidney problems, autoimmune disorders, etc. If a woman has any of these conditions or other health-related issues, the company is legally obligated to treat the woman like any other employee with a medical impairment.
5. During your pregnancy leave, your job cannot be given away.
Whether or not you have paid leave or not, a pregnant woman is still allowed to take leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees to take unpaid leave for up to 12 work weeks. While away on leave, the employer cannot replace you from your job.
The rights of pregnant women have evolved immensely since the 1960s. However, even with these rights, pregnant women still face discrimination in the workplace. As legislature and laws continue to change, the attitudes of employers towards pregnant women must change.