A Michigan woman who was forced out of her job after becoming pregnant filed a federal lawsuit last week against her employer, Hope Healthcare Center, alleging violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state anti-discrimination law.
Asia Myers, a certified nursing assistant, experienced complications early in her pregnancy that threatened to lead to miscarriage. Her doctor recommended that she remain home on bed rest for a week and then return to work, but only if she did not perform any heavy lifting. Meyers therefore requested a reasonable accommodation from her employer. Instead of accommodating Meyers as the company had done for other workers with similar restrictions, her employer refused and forced Meyers onto unpaid leave, causing her to lose her health benefits and incur significant financial hardship.
“It’s unfair to make me choose between earning a living and protecting my health and the health of my baby when I could still perform my job without doing any heavy lifting,” said Myers. “I was only asking to be treated the same way as other workers who had temporary restrictions on lifting.”
Pregnancy discrimination is illegal under the federal Pregnancy discrimination Act, which asserts that pregnant women should be “treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs.” Although the act has had a huge positive impact since it was passed in 1978, there is still room for improvement. Courts around the United States have been interpreting the act narrowly, often allowing employers to fire, force unpaid leave, or refuse reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers.
Media Resources: American Civil Liberties Union 12/12/13; Feminist Newswire 10/30/13, 10/31/13, 11/8/13; US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Feminist Majority 10/31/13