Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘pregnant workers’

Far-right effort to smear Elizabeth Warren flops. Turns out pregnancy discrimination is a thing

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Elizabeth Warren and the entire history of women’s employment in the 1970s are swatting away a claim by a far-right website disputing Warren’s story of losing her first teaching job because she was visibly pregnant at the end of her first year. The Free Beacon found documents claiming that Warren was offered a second-year teaching contract but resigned. However, there are a lot more documents showing that it was absolutely standard for women to lose teaching jobs because they were pregnant, and Twitter was quick to bring those receipts.

The key rebuttal to the claim that Warren wasn’t really forced out in 1971? A 1972 news story from New Jersey, the state where Warren was teaching, reporting that “Pregnant teachers can no longer be automatically forced out of New Jersey’s classrooms.” To repeat, “automatically forced out.” But many other headlines prove just how standard that was, as historian Joshua Zeitz shows.

Warren herself had a typically straightforward, non-defensive response:

She told CBS News that, as the documents Free Beacon found indicate, she had initially been offered a second-year teaching contract. But that’s not the whole story, she said: “I was pregnant, but nobody knew it. And then a couple of months later when I was six months pregnant and it was pretty obvious, the principal called me in, wished me luck, and said he was going to hire someone else for the job.”

Other people who taught in the same New Jersey district at the time didn’t remember Warren’s specific case, but did confirm the policy. “The rule was at five months you had to leave when you were pregnant. Now, if you didn’t tell anybody you were pregnant, and they didn’t know, you could fudge it and try to stay on a little bit longer,” retired teacher Trudy Randall said. “But they kind of wanted you out if you were pregnant.”

Not only did women routinely lose their jobs for being pregnant in the 1970s, when it was legal to fire them for that reason, but women continue to lose their jobs for being pregnant, even though there are now technically some legal protections for pregnant women. The Free Beacon thinking it had a giant gotcha here shows how out of touch these people are with the reality American women are still living with now, let alone what they lived with in the 1970s.

This article was originally published at Daily Kos on October 8, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.

Protection Against Pregnancy Discrimination in California

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Pregnancy is an exciting and emotional time in a person’s life. It can feel like there is so much to do before the baby arrives; from a healthy delivery to making sure you have enough savings in your bank account. You do not need another thing to worry about, especially your job security.

Fortunately, there are both state and federal laws which protect employees against wrongful discrimination based on their pregnancy status or disability as a result of pregnancy. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, it is important to know your rights and how you and your family are protected under these laws.

What is pregnancy discrimination?

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pregnancy discrimination is unfavorable treatment towards a woman due to her pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition.

This type of discrimination is unlawful at any stage of hiring, employment, or termination. It is illegal to deny someone a job, demote or refuse to promote, decrease pay rate, or terminate employment due to a person’s pregnancy status or desire to become pregnant, intention of becoming pregnant, or possibility of pregnancy.

Pregnancy discrimination also includes a variety of actions. As a pregnant employee, you are not just protected from being fired or demoted due to pregnancy, but it is also unlawful for an employer to deny you reasonable accommodations due to pregnancy status, including a time and place to express milk, or deny you time off following the birth of your child.

What are discriminatory employment actions?

 Any discriminatory action against you in the workplace is unlawful. Some of the most common discriminatory employment actions due to an employee’s pregnancy status include:

  • Refusing to hire;
  • Demoting;
  • Laying off;
  • Denying benefits, such as paid time off and health insurance;
  • Assigning lesser or inferior jobs;
  • Terminations/Firing; or
  • Any other term or condition of employment.

What are reasonable accommodations?

Your employer is required to provide you with reasonable accommodations if, with those accommodations, you are still able to adequately perform your job duties. Reasonable accommodations are determined by considering whether this request would cause undue hardship to the employer. If not, it may be a reasonable request.

Some reasonable accommodations in regard to pregnancy may include:

  • Time off to attend doctors’ appointments;
  • Adjusting work schedules to accommodate for severe morning sickness;
  • Allowing the employee to sit during her shift; and
  • Weight restrictions related to lifting heavy objects.

What laws protect me from pregnancy discrimination?

 There are both state and federal laws which protect employees from discrimination based on pregnancy.

 The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or any other pregnancy-related medical conditions.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal statute which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. This includes pregnancy and limitations as a result of pregnancy.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees up to 12 weeks of leave per year due to the birth of a child, the placement of a child via adoption or foster care, the care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or the serious health condition of the employee. While this is unpaid, the employee may not lose their job due to her leave of absence under this federal statute. Employees also enjoy continuation of their health insurance and benefits as if they had never taken a leave from work.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee or potential employee based upon the individual’s status as a protected class. In California, protected classes of people include:

  • Race, color
  • Ancestry, national origin
  • Religion, creed
  • Age (over 40)
  • Disability, mental and physical
  • Sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Military and veteran status

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), however there are a few significant differences. The CFRA also allows employees up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period for the same reasons allowable in the FMLA, but the CFRA also provides leave to care for a registered domestic partner who is experiencing a serious medical condition rather than only a spouse, child, or parent.

The California New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) allows employees to take time off to bond with a new child or a child newly placed for adoption or foster care. This Act requires the employer to provide the employee with a guarantee of employment security and reinstatement prior to beginning parental leave.

The California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDL) specifically protects employees who are experiencing a disability resulting from pregnancy. Typically, the employee’s medical team will recommend how long the leave should be, according to your health condition, medical history, and other personal details, however this law does allow for up to four month of leave per pregnancy.

The California Paid Family Leave (PFL) allows employees time off work to bond with a new child following the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the child. This also includes protections for employees to take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member, such as a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner. It is important to note that this statute only protects monetary benefits but does not provide job security or protection. However, your job may be protected through other state or federal laws.

This article was originally published by V. James DeSimone Law on August 20, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: The team of employment attorneys at V. James DeSimone Law have in-depth knowledge and years of experience in this field. To schedule a consultation, you may call us today at (310) 693-5561. If you are pregnant or thinking about being pregnant, protect yourself, your family, and your job by knowing and understanding your rights and protections under both state and federal laws. If you believe you have been a victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, it is crucial to contact an experienced employment attorney right away. Learn more at: https://www.vjamesdesimonelaw.com/employment-law/pregnancy-discrimination/

Rally Urges Court to End Pregnancy Discrimination

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Image: Mike Hall

No one should have to choose between their job and the health of their pregnancy. Peggy Young was forced to do just that in 2006 when she became pregnant and her employer, UPS, refused to accommodate her with light duty as her doctor recommended. She was forced to take unpaid leave and go without her employer-provided health coverage.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard her case claiming UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. Outside, about 200 of her supporters from women’s groups across the political spectrum rallied in her support.

Moms Rising Executive Director Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner says:

“Far too many employers are either ignoring or misinterpreting the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was expressly designed to protect pregnant workers from discrimination and promote their economic security.”

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus writes:

“Peggy Young’s Supreme Court case sounds like a throwback to the “Mad Men” era, when employers weren’t expected—or required—to welcome women in general and pregnant women in particular.”

Young’s story is, says Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, “ unfortunately, not unusual, as reflected in the number of pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.” She adds:

“Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and are breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families….When employers deny equal treatment to these women, they force workers like Peggy Young to make an impossible choice between jeopardizing their families’ financial security and following their doctors’ advice for a healthy pregnancy.”

This blog originally appeared I AFL-CIO.org on December 3, 2014. Reprinted with permission.http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/Rally-Urges-Court-to-End-Pregnancy-Discrimination

About the author: Mike Hall  is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

Pregnant Workers Need More Protection than Walmart's Giving Them

Monday, May 26th, 2014
Laura ClawsonWalmart’s habit of making pregnant women choose between their paychecks and their health by denying them light duty got the retail giant enough bad publicity to spur a change in policy. The new policy leaves Walmart a whole lot of wiggle room to continue putting pregnant women in difficult positions, but it’s an improvement. However, Elizabeth Stoker wonders why Walmartisn’t giving pregnant women the same moral standing it gives veterans, who the company is making a big push to hire:

There’s no material reason veterans make better candidates for employment at Wal-Mart than any other candidate, especially for the low-skilled labor being performed on the floor of retail shops. And yet Wal-Mart’s commitment to veterans doesn’t seem entirely out of line, as veterans are seen as people with a different moral standing than others: They have contributed something of value, and therefore are valued.Wal-Mart notably doesn’t categorize pregnant women in that same class of morally valuable person. Benefits and accommodations in work are not offered to pregnant women insofar as they are pregnant, but only insofar as they are disabled in a medical sense by the effects of pregnancy. In other words, pregnancy has simply been subsumed under the preexisting criteria of disability rather than granted its own category of consideration. […]

After all, pregnant women are at the final analysis socially valuable and morally distinct as a category of person. They ensure the ongoing life of society, and do so at personal cost: sometimes great, sometimes minor. If Wal-Mart is willing to recognize the moral significance of veterans in those terms, why not pregnant women?

The answer to the question is “because there isn’t as much public pressure and Walmart doesn’t do anything for workers without public pressure.” Besides, all it’s actually doing for veterans is hiring some of them to crappy Walmart jobs and giving some money to veterans’ programs to make itself look good. There’s no reason to believe veterans won’t be treated as badly as any other Walmart worker.Whatever your reasoning, though, pregnant women deserve stronger workplace protections than they currently have. It shouldn’t take bad publicity to get businesses to offer women light duty when they have a doctor’s note saying they need it, and policies offering accommodation shouldn’t have as much wiggle room as Walmart’s does. For that matter, women shouldn’t have to depend on having a decent boss to be able to keep working safely through pregnancy. That should be a matter of the law. Instead, pregnant women now face discrimination and Republicans are predictably standing in the way of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would strengthen protections for all pregnant women, not just the ones whose employers have gotten bad press.

This article was originally printed on the Daily Kos on May 23, 2014.  Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at the Daily Kos.

 

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