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October 31 marked the 35th Anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but more still needs to be done to protect pregnant workers' rights. Women’s participation in the labor force—now up to 46.7%—has come a long way since the 1950s. However, the glass ceiling still remains, hindering the economic equity and security of female workers and their families.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R.1975 & S.942)—like the Americans with Disabilities Act—would help pregnant workers maintain economic stability and a healthy pregnancy by requiring that employers provide reasonable work accommodations (such as additional bathroom and/or sitting breaks, light lifting duty, or basic modifications to physical tasks).
Without the appropriate accommodations, pregnant workers are forced to choose between early unpaid maternity leave—sometimes well before the birth of a child—or continuing to work and putting their pregnancies and health at risk. Once a woman has exhausted her 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave (mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act) her employer is no longer required to hold her position. Women who choose to take unpaid leave earlier in their pregnancy could then be forced to go back to work before giving birth/immediately after or risk losing their job.
Fact: 80% of all working women will become pregnant at some point in their lifetime.
Fact: In 2011, 70.6% of mothers with children under 18 and 55.8% of those with children under 1 were members of the workforce.
Fact: Nearly two-thirds of all mothers are primary or co-breadwinners for their households.
It is time to close the loopholes in discrimination and disability laws that deprive women of basic employment rights! Urge your legislators to co-sponsor and support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and to work for its swift passage!
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