This Mother’s Day, Fight for Working MomsMay 08, 2012
Every year around Mother’s Day, especially in election years, we hear politicians talk about honoring and cherishing the role of motherhood in our society. But pregnant women in the workforce are often confronted with employment practices that force them to choose between following doctors’ orders for a healthy pregnancy and losing their jobs. We need to change that.
This morning, AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz joined several members of Congress at a press conference announcing the introduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to protect the health of pregnant workers, such as letting them carry bottles of water or take restroom breaks.
The economic health of most American families is dependent on working mothers. Seventy million women work outside the home, and three-quarters of them already have or will have children. These women will work through their pregnancies; in fact, most of them must keep working to make ends meet. The last thing an expecting mom should have to worry about is job security, but far too many women face discrimination directly because of their pregnancies.
Since 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act has been the best defense for pregnant women who face discrimination on the job based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. But more than 30 years later, courts have ruled that, in certain circumstances, women who are pregnant still risk being forced out of the workplace simply for following doctors’ orders. That’s why this legislation is so important — it makes it unlawful to discriminate against pregnant workers by forcing them out of their jobs unnecessarily or by denying reasonable accommodations that would allow them to keep working.
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend — don’t forget to get a card! — AAUW believes that we must recognize the role that working moms play in our nation’s economy and do all that we can to support them. Passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is another important step toward ending employer discrimination against women.