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Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

Texas mothers may have noticed a more open policy in society regarding pregnant women in the workplace. More employers are offering longer leaves related to pregnancy and childbirth. They are also offering lactation rooms for nursing mothers. However, pregnancy can still adversely affect some female workers.

For example, one mother-to-be was working at Wal-Mart in 2006 and was under a doctor's instruction to keep a water bottle with her. The water bottle became a bigger issue than the mother realized. She reports that her supervisor told her that a doctor's note could not be accepted and that water fountains were available for her use. She acquired a second note, but her supervisor rejected it as well. When the woman continued to keep the water bottle with her, her supervisor gave her an ultimatum. She was ultimately fired and then sued her employer, ultimately settling out of court. Perhaps in response to the case and other pressure from other women, the company changed its policy to state that it would take "reasonable measures" to accommodate pregnancy.

Some states have created laws that require employers to use these reasonable accommodations. A push for more comprehensive legislation is being made. However, opponents say that new laws would just confuse employers who already have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other such laws. Proponents for the addition of laws says that new laws are necessary to clarify employers' responsibilities. Many of the employers who are not aware of their responsibilities are in fields where women are not paid well and in male-dominated fields.

Pregnant mothers who believe that they have faced discrimination in the workplace may decide to consult with an employment law lawyer. By taking this action, they may be able to learn about their legal rights and options for filing a claim against their employer.

Source: NPR, "When Being Pregnant Also Means Being Out Of A Job", Yuki Noguchi, April 17, 2014

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