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Do pregnancy discrimination protections go far enough?

Pregnant women in Texas are protected from being discriminated against at work under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. This law made it illegal for employers to treat women poorly on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. This means that women cannot be fired, or refused promotions or jobs because they are pregnant.

While the law was a major step forward for women's rights in the workplace, some say that pregnant women need more protections. For example, while the Pregnancy Discrimination Act means that pregnant workers cannot be treated differently than any other workers, it does not go so far to state that any reasonable accommodations must be provided to pregnant workers.

There have been instances in which this has lead to the firing of pregnant women. In one case, a pregnant woman was fired because her employer did not want her carrying a water bottle at work. Another workplace has been noted for refusing to allow women to go on light duty when they were pregnant; instead, they were forced to continue lifting more than 20 lbs on the job.

In some workplaces, employers do make accommodations, but they are generally doing this of their own will. In other workplaces women may fear that they will get fired for even requesting an accommodation.

Last year, the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act was introduced in Congress to close some of these loopholes that allow pregnant women to suffer unfair and dangerous treatment at work. The bill, however, did not make it out of committee.

For now, pregnant workers in San Antonio should be aware of their rights and tread carefully. Those who feel they are being discriminated against should not hesitate to seek legal counsel to stand up for their rights.

Source: Philadelphia Post-Inquirer, "Pregnancy discrimination: a real-world challenge," Bette Begleiter and JoAnne Fischer, Jan. 8, 2012

  • More information about discrimination laws and employment rights is available on our San Antonio employment law firm's Discrimination page.

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