Women often face a lot of uncertainty during pregnancy, including in the workplace. Despite current legal protections, many pregnant women are still the victim of workplace discrimination. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act could potentially expand those protections and further require employers in Rhode Island and across the country to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.
If the PWFA is signed into law, it would guarantee pregnant women the same rights to reasonable accommodations that the American with Disabilities Act provides to workers with disabilities. Although there are laws such as the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act that are supposed to protect pregnant women, the law simply does not go far enough. For example, staying well hydrated is important for preventing bladder infections. Despite this, employers have fired pregnant workers for asking to carry water bottles while on the clock.
Pregnancy discrimination can come at a much steeper cost than just losing one’s job, though. In June 2020, a public transportation worker suffered a miscarriage because her employer refused to provide her with reasonable accommodations. This experience is shared by far too many women in Rhode Island who, when faced with the possibility of losing their jobs, had no other choice but to keep working.
Workplace discrimination has real, lasting effects for its victims. From financial losses to emotional trauma and, in some cases, even miscarriages, moving forward can be exceptionally difficult. Securing compensation for these damages may be key to doing so, though. One way of accomplishing this is by successfully navigating a workplace discrimination claim.