Pregnant Worker Protection through the Land

Pregnant Worker Protection through the Land

If you click on the link above, you see a map of states and whether each has a law governing discrimination, and protection for lactating workers. 
This map shows the slow advance of protection for pregnant and lactating women. In the past two years, Maryland has taken positive steps to help pregnant women. In 2013, we required employers to consider accommodation requests and grant them if the accommodation did not present an undue hardship. Then, in 2014, Maryland added a requirement that new mothers get six weeks of unpaid leave. This is significant for parents of newborns because day care centers cannot accept babies until they reach the six week mark.

Other states have gone further, as you can see from the map, and codified lactation protection. Others have done precious little.

With women making up a huge part of the labor force, and tipping over 50% in higher education, a few “family-friendly” laws are welcome. Antiquated notions about a women leaving the workforce when she starts to show in her pregnancy and then returning, perhaps, never, should not form any part of employment decisions.

The non-pregnancy specific protections are somewhat patchwork, though. The Americans with Disabilities Act is scant protection: Pregnancy is not a disability; it’s a normal human condition usually characterized by good health. But sometimes symptoms of pregnancy, the need for more frequent doctors’ appointments, and temporary physical changes interfere, often mildly, with the worker’s previous level of performance. So new laws designed to allow working women to become mothers, and to feed their children, are needed. The good news is that the landscape is changing toward more protection.

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