The New York Women’s Equality Coalition rallied yesterday morning on the steps of New York City’s city hall to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the recent passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act by the New York City Council. They also called on state legislators to take action to ensure that the New York Women’s Equality Agenda – which contains an important measure to strengthen pregnancy discrimination protections – does not die on December 31, 2013.
Protections for pregnant women are vitally important. Almost two-thirds of first-time mothers work while pregnant, and 90 percent of those women continue to work into their last two months of pregnancy. Low-income women and women of color are more likely to be affected by pregnancy discrimination, because they are more likely to hold low-paying jobs with limited flexibility.
A recent report by the National Women’s Law Center showed how pregnant women are often fired or forced to take unpaid leave from jobs because employers fail to make reasonable accommodations that they would make for other workers.
“Women make up almost half of the labor force, but all too often they are forced to make an impossible choice: risk their own health and pregnancy to keep a job or lose their income at the moment they can least afford it,”said NWLC Vice President and General Counsel Emily Martin. “Pregnant workers are ready, willing and able to continue working but they are often forced out by employers who refuse to make minor accommodations. These women and their families pay a steep price when they’re pushed out of jobs. There’s no reason for pregnancy to be a job-buster.”
Currently only a handful of states provide protections for pregnant workers. A federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was reintroduced in Congress last May.
Media Resources: New York Women’s Equality Coalition 10/29/13; Feminist Newswire 5/15/13, 10/2/13; New York State Governor; National Organization for Women NYC 10/29/13; National Women’s Law Center 6/18/13