For all intents and purposes, I had a pretty textbook pregnancy. Nothing unusual occurred, but that also didn’t mean it had been all rainbows and unicorns.I’ve always wondered why they call it morning sickness, when for many people it lasts all day long. At least, that is what it was like in my after i was pregnant with my son. I’d awaken feeling nauseous with no amount of Saltines or ginger chews left by my bedside table to nibble on first thing ever helped. I felt the same as sea sick all day long: unbalanced, dizzy, and foggy. For that first couple of months, my weekends were put in gentle yoga classes when I could afford them or lounging on my couch catching up on grading.
My weekdays were much less bearable. I taught high school social studies and I always had to be “on” and engaging, despite my roiling stomach that hardly offered me a minute’s relief. More than once I would on-site visit a hasty plea to “please read page 44 and I will be right back” before booking it to the nearest bathroom and hugging the questionably clean toilet. But “morning” sickness was just the end of the iceberg. I also had to endure sweaty teenage boys who thought cologne was a suitable coverup for post-gym stink (it’s not), as well as whatever horribly pungent odors wafted up from the cafeteria.
Thankfully, I worked at a school which was supportive of everyone, even though you got pregnant. The head of my department managed to get clear which i could rush out of my room, leaving it unsupervised, for any quick bathroom visit if need be, and I was swapped out of cafeteria duty for that much less odorous hall duty while my nose was still particularly sensitive. While they were minor accommodations, additionally they made it simpler for me to teach to the better of my ability while still dealing with a particularly severe case of morning-all-day-sickness.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many pregnant women within the workforce, particularly those who find themselves in low wage and less flexible jobs. Many women that are pregnant have found themselves out of work, either terminated by their companies or instructed to quit because of unsafe working environments. Heather Wiseman would be a floor associate for Wal-Mart when she became pregnant. Upon doctors orders to combat urinary and bladder infections, she began carrying a water bottle around together with her at the office – an action which was against Wal-Mart rules and which ultimately got her fired.
Like Wiseman, Amber Walker was another woman who found herself needing to make workplace accommodations at her job as the only female trucker for any beer delivery service. Walker requested either help with heavy-lifting over the past few months of being pregnant or perhaps in lieu of this, being assigned a different duty. Even with provided help other employees previously because of injuries, Walker’s employer refused her requests, forcing her to consider unpaid leave that expired only six days after her baby was created. Walked was fired when she did not return to work a week after giving birth.
These stories and more were compiled by the National Women’s Law Center in an effort to illustrate the need for better legislation when it comes to protecting working women that are pregnant. While pregnancy is not a disability, nor will it lessen a ladies value like a worker, there are occasions when certain, usually very minor, accommodations need to be made to guarantee safe working conditions and utmost productivity. Currently, her pregnancy Discrimination Act (established in 1978) fails to provide sufficient recourse for ladies like Wiseman or Walker who require accommodations while pregnant.
There is really a new act which will come before Congress within the next couple of months that will require employers to allow for reasonable accommodations in cases of pregnant employees – ones that would have prevented women like Wiseman or Walker from losing their jobs. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will allow pregnant women to continue doing their jobs via minor modifications. For example, if the PWFA passed, Heather Wiseman would have been allowed to carry around her water bottle and keep her job. Other modifications might include providing excrement for a expectant mother who would otherwise need to be on her behalf feet for her entire shift, or allowing for flexible scheduling for a woman experiencing severe morning sickness.
This act wouldn’t be a totally free pass for pregnant women to consider benefit of their employers. It would allow for pregnant women to continue working and supporting their own families. Nearly all ladies who are negatively influenced by the lack of such legislation are low-wage earners, specifically the type of individuals who can’t afford to become with no employment. This legislation, if passed, allows for healthier pregnancies and in turn healthier, easier workers.
The National Women’s Law Center is spending so much time to try and understand this bill passed. Additionally, they’re hoping to hear more actual life stories of ladies who’ve found themselves unfairly challenged at the office simply because they were pregnant. Have you been fired or forced from a job because simple modifications weren’t made to accommodate your pregnancy?