The Pregnant Employees Equity Act: Why Coverage Specialists and Healthcare Suppliers Agree It’s Time for Congress to Act

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act: Why Coverage Specialists and Healthcare Suppliers Agree It’s Time for Congress to Act

All of us deserve to have the ability to look after ourselves and our households with out worry of discrimination and retaliation.

The Pregnant Employees Equity Act: Why Coverage Specialists and Healthcare Suppliers Agree It’s Time for Congress to Act
Advocates, legislators and pregnant employees rally on Capitol Hill in assist of The Pregnant Employees Equity Act on Dec. 1, 2022. The PWFA would shut a authorized loophole within the landmark Being pregnant Discrimination Act by making certain all employers present pregnant and postpartum employees with modest lodging on the job. (Paul Morigi / Getty Photos for A Higher Stability)

Discrimination within the office towards people who find themselves pregnant just isn’t a brand new phenomenon. In actual fact, this has been an ever-present illness of capitalism and the office, techniques that weren’t designed to assist being pregnant.

Due to the oppressive affect of office discrimination on the well being and well-being of our communities, it has been the continuing work of advocates and lawmakers to alter our legal guidelines, coverage and tradition to raised look after people who find themselves pregnant. And whereas vital advances have been made, together with the passage of the 1978 Being pregnant Discrimination Act, vital gaps stay. We’d like extra coverage to guard pregnant individuals, and the passage of the Pregnant Employees Equity Act can be an vital and vital first step.

The 1978 Being pregnant Discrimination Act was an vital legislation that made discrimination on the premise of being pregnant, childbirth or associated medical situations unlawful. Its passage was important. It allowed extra pregnant individuals to stay employed and proceed to assist their households whereas pregnant with out the priority of being compelled out of a job.

Whereas this laws was not a blanket repair on being pregnant discrimination, the Being pregnant Discrimination Act was vital for making certain girls and other people with the capability for being pregnant might stay and advance within the office—earlier than, throughout and after childbirth.

Sadly, courts have interpreted the protections provided by the Being pregnant Discrimination Act narrowly, permitting employers to refuse to accommodate employees with medical wants arising out of being pregnant. This implies many pregnant individuals proceed to face vital being pregnant discrimination and are compelled to decide on between their well being and their jobs.

This context brings us to as we speak, the place now we have a transparent reduce resolution with broad assist from lawmakers throughout the political spectrum. And but, even on the finish of 2022, getting ready to a brand new Congress, the Senate has not but acted to move the answer generally known as the Pregnant Employees Equity Act (PWFA).

The PWFA would require employers to offer affordable, short-term office lodging to pregnant employees so long as the lodging doesn’t impose an undue burden on the employer. These affordable, medically vital office lodging can embrace permitting for an extra toilet break, having a glass of water at a piece station, having meals at your desk, entry to further masks or a separate house to work in to scale back publicity to COVID-19 or RSV, lifting restrictions, or a stool to take a seat on to lower time spent standing.

These lodging are such small changes to an worker’s work that you could be be questioning: Is a legislation just like the PWFA truly vital? The reply is emphatically sure.

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A rally on Capitol Hill in assist of The Pregnant Employees Equity Act on Dec. 1, 2022. (Paul Morigi / Getty Photos for A Higher Stability)

As a lawyer and as a supplier of complete reproductive healthcare (together with being pregnant care), we all know that whereas many individuals can count on a routine being pregnant and wholesome delivery, some should make changes of their work actions to maintain a wholesome being pregnant. We write this as pregnant succesful individuals, considered one of us a dad or mum. Being pregnant is a medical situation that requires adaptation to the wants of a pregnant particular person, together with after they’re at work.

These lodging are such small changes to an worker’s work that you could be be questioning: Is a legislation just like the PWFA truly vital?

The reply is emphatically sure—however don’t simply take our phrase for it. There are numerous examples—just like the UPS employee who was denied “mild obligation,” then misplaced medical protection when she was positioned on unpaid go away. Or the Walmart worker fired for carrying a water bottle. Or the girl who suffered a miscarriage and misplaced her being pregnant as a result of her employer wouldn’t present her with the affordable lodging—primarily weight lifting restrictions—that she wanted.

The well being and financial penalties of this kind of being pregnant discrimination are profound. Pregnant employees—particularly Black, Indigenous, Latinx employees and people being paid low-wages—are routinely fired or pushed out onto unpaid go away after they want being pregnant lodging, threatening livelihoods at a time after they want the safety of a paycheck essentially the most. And others could don’t have any alternative however to threat their well being as a way to present for themselves and their family members—generally with devastating outcomes for each the dad or mum’s and toddler’s well being outcomes.

Our want for compassionate reproductive healthcare and our want for protected, simply workplaces are intertwined. We are able to’t have a future the place we obtain protected and wholesome communities if we don’t deal with the ways in which our being pregnant standing and our standing as employees should align. We should do that work even throughout the workplaces of these combating for reproductive well being, rights and justice: Clinic employees, abortion funders and abortion seekers are additionally deserving of workplaces which have lodging for his or her well being wants.

The necessity for the Pregnant Employees Equity Act is pressing. Our nation is going through a number of crises together with an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a rising maternal mortality epidemic. The nationwide lack of abortion entry can be an emergency, the place many are being denied abortion care and are compelled to hold pregnancies to time period.

The Senate has an vital and rapidly narrowing alternative to move the Pregnant Employees Equity Act earlier than the tip of this Congress. All of us deserve to have the ability to look after ourselves and our households with out worry of discrimination and retaliation.

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