National Partnership for Women & Families

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Judith L. Lichtman, Senior Advisor

From the desk of ... Judith L. Lichtman

What Do Mothers Need? An End to Pregnancy Discrimination

Mother’s Day is this weekend. And at the National Partnership, we have joined with our allies, members of Congress and activists across the country to take a week-long look at what mothers truly need this year – beyond messages of gratitude. Today, we’re calling attention to the unacceptable workplace discrimination too many soon-to-be moms face simply because they become pregnant.

Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 – a law the National Partnership helped to pass and that made pregnancy discrimination illegal in this country – discrimination based on pregnancy persists. And it threatens the health and the economic security of women and their families at a critical time in their lives.

Women’s wages are essential to their families and our economy. Women make up nearly half the workforce and are breadwinners for their families. Three-quarters of women will become pregnant at least once while employed. Yet some pregnant women are forced out of their jobs or fired because their employers refuse to make minor accommodations that would enable them to continue working – such as letting them carry a water bottle, take bathroom breaks or sit down as they work.

The good news is that some states are leading the way by passing new laws to combat this kind of shameful discrimination. There is also a much-needed federal proposal called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act that would put in place the same protections for pregnant women as those afforded to workers with similar limitations; this would prevent employers from forcing pregnant workers out of their jobs and help ensure employers provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations.

This afternoon, we are proud to be joining with our coalition partners to deliver a special Mother’s Day letter to Congress, calling on members to prioritize passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to remind lawmakers that women should not be forced out of their jobs because they have decided to grow their families.

To honor the current and future mothers in your life, tell your members of Congress to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act today.

You can support our #WhatMothersNeed week of action by telling your friends, family, followers and members of Congress what you think mothers truly need this Mother’s Day. We’re focusing on a new issue each day, including: quality maternity care, pregnancy discrimination, family friendly workplace policies like paid family and medical leave and paid sick days, fair pay, and access to quality, affordable health care. Comment below and/or check out our daily tweet storms at 3 p.m. ET on Twitter – hashtag #WhatMothersNeed – to join the conversation.


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