As we have discussed several times in this San Antonio Employment Law Blog, employers cannot legally fire or refuse to hire an employee because she is pregnant. In a number of cases, employers might even be required to make reasonable accommodations for a worker due to a pregnancy-related condition. A recent report, however, suggests that a number of employers are violating federal employment law when it comes to the treatment of pregnant women.
The National Women’s Law Center and A Better Balance issued a report that said workplace discrimination against pregnant women is actually routine practice for many employers.
The report states that pregnant women are commonly denied very basic accommodations and that they are often fired. Pregnant women in low-wage jobs are at the largest risk of pregnancy discrimination, according to this report.
In many cases cited in the report, women have been fired after requesting a very simple accommodation. In one case, a pregnant woman asked permission to drink water and have snacks during breaks, and her fast-food employer fired her.
There are several federal laws on the books that should prevent this type of discrimination–including, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act–but apparently many employers are disregarding these.
Another law has recently been proposed in Congress, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, that would make it very clear that employers have to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers. Some say the bill is duplicative because other laws already provide this protection, but others say that a new law is needed because those that exist are being misinterpreted.
Pregnant women here in Texas should seek legal counsel if their rights have been or are being violated at work. It might be possible to hold your employer responsible for financial damages and help ensure that this type of discrimination comes to an end.
Source: CBS News, “Report: Pregnant workers face routine discrimination,” Stephen Smith, June 18, 2013