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Pennsylvania still leads in pregnancy discrimination

Many younger readers might be surprised to find out that before 1978, it was perfectly legal to fire an employee simply because they became pregnant. Although pregnancy discrimination is now illegal in the United States, employers are not required to make the same types of reasonable accommodations that they do for people with disabilities. The law provides that pregnant employees aren't treated differently than the workforce at large, but that doesn't mean that they are protected when they ask for an accommodation to make their jobs more manageable while they are pregnant.

For low-wage workers and employees who have physically demanding jobs, the possibility for pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination is great. Not only can it become harder to do those types of jobs, but it can also be taxing on an expectant mother's health. Asking for accommodations could help alleviate those issues, but many are afraid to ask for fear of retaliation.

In Pennsylvania, only about 65 percent of pregnant women and new mothers are a part of the workforce (according to numbers gathered in 2010). Pennsylvania ranks among the top 10 states for pregnancy discrimination, according to the EEOC.

The Family Medical Leave Act provides for up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave, but taking that time off can often cause financial hardship since it is generally unpaid. Still, employees who are pregnant and believe they have faced discrimination or unfair treatment in the workplace do have options for legal recourse that could help them get their job back or be paid for lost wages.

Source: Philadelphia Post-Inquirer, "Pregnancy discrimination: a real-world challenge," Bette Begleiter and JoAnne Fischer, Jan. 8, 2012

Information about pregnancy discrimination in Pittsburgh is available on our family responsibility page. 

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