October 9, 2012 — "In an economy where women now make up half the work force, we're going to have to address the treatment of pregnant employees more systemically," Alissa Quart, an author, writes in a New York Times opinion piece.
Although the pregnancies of public figures such as Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer or actress Claire Danes might give the impression that "the stigma around working while pregnant has finally lifted," the fact remains that "[t]he experience of regular women is sadly very far from that of celebrities," Quart states. Discrimination claims from pregnant women to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased by 23% from 2005 to 2011, Quart points out.
Enacting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S 3565) "would better protect against the discrimination pregnant job seekers face," Quart writes. The legislation, which was introduced in the Senate last month, would require employers to offer reasonable accommodations to pregnant women, such as water breaks and exemptions from heavy lifting.
Ultimately, "the most important reason to end discrimination against pregnant women has to do with what kind of society we want to live in," Quart continues. She calls for a society that "value[s] aspects of life beyond economic productivity" and "protect[s] pregnant workers simply so we don't become a culture of deceit in the workplace" (Quart, New York Times, 10/6).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership