Senator Elizabeth Warren is a frequent target of Republicans and especially the president, but she also quite adept at making news on her own. Her story regarding the circumstances of her 1971 pregnancy and getting fired from her first teaching job has changed over time.
Critics assail this new narrative, citing the minutes from an education board meeting that first allowed her to work two days a week and later accepting her resignation “with regret.”
“When I was 22 and finishing my first year of teaching, I had an experience millions of women will recognize. By June I was visibly pregnant — and the principal told me the job I’d already been promised for the next year would go to someone else,” wrote Warren on Twitter.
This happened years before Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in 1978. But Warren’s point in shifting her story is that pregnant women and mothers are still seeing discrimination today in the workplace. Sometimes employers find grounds for dismissal while at other times they skirt the issue by allowing women to return to work, basically putting them on the “mommy track” where there are no raises and promotions despite doing the same job as others.
New day, but the same story
Many women claim that pregnancy discrimination still happens in their workplace. This is supported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which received 2,790 federal cases involving pregnancy discrimination in 2018. Advocates, however, believe that the EEOC number is low, with the National Partnership on Women and Families claiming that 250,000 pregnant workers receive no special accommodation from employers even if they are legally entitled to them as part of their civil rights.
The PDA expanded in 2015
The Obama administration looked at the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act and updated it in 2015. Key points include:
- Pregnancy should not impact the hiring, firing or promotion of a worker.
- Pregnant women are entitled to work as long as they are willing and able to do so.
- Affordable Care Act also ensures that mothers can take time to pump breast milk in a private place without fear of harassment.
Everyone has their own story
Not everyone will experience discrimination based on pregnancy, but employers are wise to make every effort to be compliant with all applicable laws involving employment law and civil rights issues. Employers and workers with questions of how to reconcile the company’s needs while accommodating pregnant can speak with an employment law attorney. Some issues can be handled just by better understanding these laws so they can work for all parties involved.