Pregnancy & Family Leave Issues
The Women's Equality Agenda (WEA) provisions will help the women and families of New York by preserving our access to reproductive health care, ensuring fair treatment at work, and helping survivors of violence. It's time for an upgrade. We need laws as strong as New York women. The NY state Senate and Assembly left Albany in June without passing unified legislation to make the WEA the law of the land here in New York State, the birthplace of women's rights.
AAUW's Know Your Rights: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
It Shouldn't Be a Heavy Lift for Pregnant Workers - A report A Better Balance did with the National Women's Law Center highlighting the need for stronger legal protections 35 years after passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act - highlighting 8 stories from women across the country.
To learn more about the case for family leave insurance in the United States, see the A report A Better Balance September 2013 report, Investing in Our Families: The Case for Family Leave Insurance in New York and the Nation.
Updated: April 10, 2014
- In the News: Teen Birth Rate in US Drops but Still 1,700 Babies Born to Teens Every Week, CDC - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released the latest statistics for teen pregnancies indicating a 63 percent decline in teen birth rate in the last two decades. Analysis from 1991 to 2012 revealed that the number of births among 15-17 year olds dropped but these younger teens still accounted for a quarter of teen births. The rate of births among young teens is 1,700 per week. This new finding highlights the need to introduce strict interventions in order to curb teen pregnancies.
- In the News: Under pressure, Wal-Mart upgrades its policy for helping pregnant workers - In early March, Wal-Mart quietly overhauled its pregnancy policy, that could still ease the way for hundreds of thousands of its other female employees who could have babies down the road. Such problems certainly aren't unique to Wal-Mart. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 5,797 pregnancy-related complaints in 2011, from all sectors of the economy; with more women working through pregnancy, employers have been figuring out how to modify their duties as they become more difficult to perform.
- In the News: Massachusetts Senate Votes for Childbirth Without Chains - On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed S2012, a bill that prohibits shackling during labor and delivery and sets minimum standards for pregnancy-related care for people in jails and prisons. The vote comes after nearly three decades of activism and advocacy from people both in and out of jails and prisons.
- In the News: Scary Trend: Across America, Attacks on Pregnant Women's Rights On the Rise
- In the News: ‘16 and Pregnant,’ May Serve as a Cautionary Tale - A study finds that MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” a reality show depicting very young parents, may have contributed to a drop in teenage pregnancy. “It’s thrilling,” said Sarah S. Brown, the chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “People just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”
- OpEd: When the state interferes in a family drama - His father-in-law, Ernest Machado, told the New York Times the state has made his daughter “a host for a fetus.” Indeed. In seeking to protect a life not yet viable outside the womb, it has reduced its mother to a thing, and robbed her family of its right to say a dignified and proper farewell.
- In the News: New Jersey: Protecting Pregnant Women on the Job - New Jersey’s legislature has given final approval to a bill that bars workplace discrimination against pregnant women. The measure would prohibit discrimination against women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including recovery from childbirth.
- In the News: Long-Acting Contraceptives Help Improve Pregnancy Spacing, Study Finds - Women who used intrauterine devices or other long-acting, reversible contraceptives after pregnancy were four times less likely than women who used condoms or other barrier methods to become pregnant within 18 months, according to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
- In the News: New York Times Spotlights Group Maternity Care Model - About 300 sites around the country have implemented a maternity care model that provides group-based check-ups and consultations for pregnant women and new mothers. The programs allow participants to receive check-ups in a setting that also boosts patient participation and provides a supportive community for patients with similar conditions.
- In the News: Governor Andrew Cuomo Vetoes Maternal Depression Bill - He vetoed milestone legislation that would have supported women in helping to save lives and increase early identification of the most common medical disorder after childbirth, postpartum depression that effects over 50,000 New York State women and families each year.
- In the News: Forcing a Woman to Get Pregnant Isn't a Crime...Yet - Although the anti-choice community frequently pushes to strengthen the legal protections against "coerced abortion," it's not currently against U.S. law to tamper with a woman's birth control to try to trick her into getting pregnant. Domestic violence prevention advocates say this type of abuse is rampant, and should be punished more seriously in the eyes of the law.
- In the News: Could Longer Maternity Leave Prevent Postpartum Depression? - Having a longer maternity leave reduces a woman's risk of postpartum depression, new research shows. The findings suggest that the maximum 12 weeks of maternity leave given to American mothers under federal law may be inadequate, according to the University of Maryland researchers.
- In the News: Five startling facts about pregnancy in America - Fewer women are getting pregnant: The pregnancy rate for American women between 15 and 44 dropped 12 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to a new Center for Disease Control report out today on pregnancy and abortion. In 2009, there were 102.1 pregnancies per 1,000 women, a drop from 115.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 1990.
- In the News: Two Events on U.S. Maternity Care Suggest a Trend - Years’ of complacency about the worsening rates at which U.S. women are dying or being injured during childbirth might be ending.
- AAUW OpEd: Pregnancy discrimination issues remain (Nov. 13, 2013)
- In the News: Yes, men should pay for pregnancy coverage, and here's why - Let's examine why maternity care is written into all insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act. Society has a vested interest in healthy babies and mothers.
- OpEd: Dina Bakst, A Better Balance - Expecting fairness in New York - Nearly 38 percent of female-headed families in New York live in poverty. In Albany County alone, according to 2009 data, mothers head 74 percent of households in poverty, and 66 percent of those women are also working to hold down a job. More likely than not, their jobs are inflexible and physically demanding in a way that can force pregnant workers to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck.
- In the News: Great Britain: Review examines pregnancy discrimination at work - Equality and Human Rights Commission launches research project to uncover extent of problem. Rosalind Bragg, director of charity Maternity Action, said: "It is important that the government does not weaken the law on pregnancy discrimination but instead focuses on employer compliance. The principles of non-discrimination were established decades ago and should be accepted as an essential part of the business environment.
- In the News: Male CNN Reporter Claims Discrimination In Paid Family Leave - CNN reporter Josh Levs announced that he and his lawyers have filed a charge against Time Warner, his parent company, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claiming that the company’s paid family leave policy discriminates against new biological fathers.
- Fair Shot Campaign Aims To Move Work/Family Policy Fight Beyond ‘Women’s Issues’ Label - During the panel, Rep. Rosa DeLauro stressed that Congress will only take concrete action to give women a fair economic shot once the pressure to do so from voters becomes unbearable. “This institution moves from external pressure,” DeLauro said, so progressives need to “raise the decibel level” if anything is going to get done.
- In the News: NY Women Rally for Pregnancy Discrimination Protections - 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.
- AAUW Today: 7 Things You Need to Know about Pregnancy Discrimination
- In the News: Youth Advocates Call For Better Pregnancy, Parenting Student Supports
- In the News: Why Working Class Women Are Better Off Injured Than Pregnant
- In the News: New York City Passes Law To Protect Pregnant Workers From Discrimination
The New York City Council unanimously passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill that ensures current protections against employer discrimination extend to pregnant workers, including the right to reasonable accommodations so that they can continue to work through their pregnancies. The bill expands the city's Human Rights Law, which applies to all employers with four or more employees, to prevent discrimination against pregnant workers.
- In the News: NY employers must provide notice detailing pregnancy discrimination, accommodation rights - The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) prohibits discrimination in employment, including discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions.
- In the News: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects the pregnant employee from discriminatory actions that are based on her pregnant status. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees. In addition, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects the leave rights of pregnant employees and applies if there are 50 or more employees in the workplace. Some pregnant employees may be eligible for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Healthcare insurance and other provisions apply to the pregnant employee as they do to any other employee with a temporary disability. Some employers have also begun to extend leave rights to domestic partners who adopt children.
- In the News: Pregnancy discrimination in California, Maryland, and New York City - Why it matters: The new laws in New York City and Maryland illustrate the growing number of jurisdictions enacting expanded protections for pregnant employees beyond federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. As for California, employers should familiarize themselves with the Harris decision and its implications. The opinion heightens the standard in FEHA cases, requiring plaintiffs to establish that pregnancy was "a substantial motivating factor" behind the adverse employment action and not simply "a motivating factor." However, the decision also requires employers to affirmatively plead a mixed-motive defense in the answer to the plaintiff's complaint or waive it as a defense at trial.
- In the News: SC: Kenan Transport Sued for Pregnancy Discrimination and Retaliation - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against an operation owned by the tanker/bulk-hauler Kenan Advantage Group, claiming it violated federal law by discriminating against a female employee because she was pregnant and by retaliating against her because she made complaints about pregnancy discrimination.
- In the News: A refresher on pregnancy discrimination in the fire service Under federal law:
- Pregnant women must be treated the same as their colleagues with other temporary disabilities - no better, no worse. They can be treated better if department policy permits. If there is a CBA, greater rights can be negotiated. Thus, it is in part the union's obligation to raise this during negotiations.
- There is no requirement that someone be provided light duty.
- There is no requirement that if someone is provided light duty, that it must be provided for as long as that person needs it. It is possible that an argument could be made under the Americans with Disabilities Act that an extension of light duty is mandated. However, the ADA requires only that a reasonable accommodation is required - an employee is not entitled to the accommodation of her choice.
- The law does not require a pregnant employee to be placed on paid leave. The Family & Medical Leave Act, for example, does not require paid leave.
- It is perfectly legal for a policy or a CBA to require that someone use their available accrued paid time off (such as sick, vacation and personal time) while on a leave of absence and for the remainder of the leave to be unpaid (as long as all employees with non-work related conditions are treated uniformly). Again, if there is a CBA, greater rights than those provided by the law can be negotiated by the parties.
Do remember that you can provide pregnant firefighters with more rights than others. Also remember that you can provide, in your CBAs where applicable, for personnel to donate paid time off to their colleagues. In a unionized environment, these rights need to be negotiated and agreed upon. It is incumbent upon labor to bring these issues to the table - female firefighters are here to stay.
- In the News: NJ Bill Targets Pregnancy-Based Discrimination - Legislation introduced in New Jersey on Monday would create a bright-line prohibition on workplace discrimination against women because of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. The bill sponsored by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, would amend the state's powerful Law Against Discrimination to expressly bar employers from treating pregnant women less favorably than others who aren't pregnant but have similar work abilities.
- In the News: Former BigLaw secretary's pregnancy bias suit allowed to proceed on some claims - A former secretary at Latham & Watkins who alleges pregnancy discrimination by the law firm will be allowed to proceed with some of her claims.
- In the News: US To Back Broad Pregnancy Accommodations In UPS Case
The U.S. Supreme Court's call for a solicitor general's brief in a United Parcel Service Inc. worker's suit alleging she was wrongly denied light duty while pregnant sets the stage for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to push the envelope in interpreting the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, lawyers say.
- In the News: ACLU Challenges Firing of Ohio Pregnant Woman - The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Springfield resident Jennifer Maudlin, a single mother of two, against Inside Out, a religiously-based community organization. The lawsuit alleges that Inside Out fired Maudlin in September 2012 after she divulged that she was pregnant. The complaint cites a pattern of hostile treatment toward other unmarried women who became pregnant while working at the organization.
- In the News: GA: Employer's Corner: Pregnancy in the Workplace - Employers are not currently required under the ADA to provide accommodations to pregnant women. Even still, employers cannot discriminate against pregnant employees. For its part, Georgia has not yet passed any laws that would require an employer to accommodate pregnant employees. Be that as it may, Georgia employers are still subject to the PDA and cannot discriminate against pregnant employees.
- In the News: Australia: Crackdown on pregnancy discrimination - The Australian Human Rights Commission's Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review has begun, and Australians are being encouraged to make online submissions, particularly regarding discrimination while on parental leave or upon returning to work. Men, women and community organisations who are aware of discrimination are all encouraged to submit. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics pregnancy and employment transitions survey showed that approximately 19% of female employees believed they had experienced some level of discrimination in the workplace while pregnant. This was most commonly missing an opportunity for promotion (34%), missing training or development opportunities (32%) and receiving inappropriate or negative comments from a superior (28%).
- In the News: China: College Students Protest Discrimination against Pregnant Employees - Several college students dressed up as pregnant women held up a banner and sang a song in front of an office building in Beijing on October 20, 2013, to protest employers' discrimination against their pregnant employees.
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