Protecting pregnant women from workplace discrimination is an essential part of reproductive freedom. This advocacy is a crucial part of the work we do every day to ensure a woman’s choices are her own—not warped by unfair and discriminatory workplace policies.
In 2016, Colorado passed HB16-1438, the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act, which makes it a discriminatory or unfair employment practice if an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations to an applicant or employee who is pregnant, physically recovering from childbirth, or a related condition. Reasonable accommodations include: more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks, acquisition or modification of equipment or seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, if available, with return to the current position after pregnancy, and others.
Unfortunately, in other states pregnant women can be shut out of the workforce simply for needing a bottle of water at their desk, a chair to sit on or even an extra bathroom break during the workday. Discrimination also affects women who are seeking new employment, as pregnant job applicants may fear that disclosing their pregnancy could cost them the job. When employers do not provide reasonable accommodations for expectant mothers, women can be forced to choose between a paycheck and starting or growing their family.
Women make up almost half of our nation’s labor force, and 40 percent of women are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families.1 When women choose to have children, their employers should respect that choice, not discriminate against them. This means accommodating the needs of pregnant women at work.
1 Pew Research Center, Breadwinner Moms