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Employers are still firing women for being pregnant

Nearly four decades ago, the U.S. Congress passed a law called the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) that was intended to prevent employers from firing a woman because she was pregnant. The PDA mandates that employers adhere to the same type of temporary physical restrictions for pregnant women that they would for any other employee who required temporary restrictions due to a physical condition. These accommodations often involve assigning workers to "light duty," including a restriction on how much weight they're required to lift.

As recently as 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case against United Parcel Service, Inc., that a pregnant employee is entitled to these accommodations unless the employer's case is "sufficiently strong" for not making them. Cost and inconvenience, the court determined, were not sufficient reasons.

However, in 2017, women are still losing their jobs for being pregnant.

One woman, who worked as a certified nursing assistant, has sued the rehabilitation center where she worked. She says that she was told to go home after she told her boss that she was expecting twins and had been instructed by her doctor not to lift anything weighing over 30 pounds. Part of her job involved sometimes lifting patients.

She says that instead of modifying her job duties, her boss sent her home. She says that once her unpaid leave ran out (while she was still pregnant), she tried to return to her job, but was fired.

A court dismissed the woman's case, saying that she didn't provide enough evidence that she had been treated differently. That was despite the fact that, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the facility had alternative options, such as mechanical lifts, for moving patients.

The ACLU and other advocacy groups are helping the woman appeal her case.

If you are pregnant, it's wise to find out what your employer's accommodation policies are before you inform them of your pregnancy and be prepared to tell them what restrictions you will need, if any. Of course, these may change as the pregnancy advances. If you have any concerns before notifying your employer or if you believe that you have been treated illegally by your employer because of your pregnancy, an experienced West Virginia employment attorney can offer guidance.

Source: American Civil Liberties Union, "In 2017, Pregnancy Still Earns Women Pink Slips," Kate Meyer, accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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