BREAKING NEWS: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is now law, providing improved protections for pregnant parents. (source, A Better Balance) NOTE: All laws are subject to change and do not provide the same protection against sex discrimination as a constitutional amendment.
Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy (or the capacity to become pregnant) is a major cause of sex discrimination. The 28th Amendment (Equal Rights) will constitutionally protect from discrimination on the basis of sex, which likely includes discrimination on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding.
The United States one of only two countries in the world, along with Papua New Guinea, that have no statutory national policy of paid maternity leave (source, The Economist) and at the current rate of adoption it will take 150 years for everyone in the United States to have paid leave. (source, evoke) Related and horrifying side note: Within ten days of having a baby, one in four women are back at work. (source, In These Times)
Complaints of pregnancy discrimination filed with the EEOC range from being fired for being pregnant (30%) to discriminatory terms/conditions of employment, to denial of minor medical accommodations (like carrying a water bottle or more frequent bathroom breaks). (source, National Partnership for Womens and Families)
The 28th Amendment empowers Congress to enact legislation to strengthen protections for pregnant workers. As it stands now, women who need to keep their jobs are sometimes forced to choose between performing their usual functions and complying with their physicians’ care instructions. The results can be devastating, with miscarriages occurring on the job. For example, in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. (2015) the Supreme Court found that a policy that allowed accommodation for a driver with a suspended license but not a pregnant worker was not employment discrimination. In fact, the Supreme Court declined to interpret the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as a variation of sex discrimination.
Protecting American workers and their pregnancies will help families because most households in America depend, wholly or in part, on women’s income.