Roughly 85 percent of working women will become mothers at some point during their careers. There are numerous legal protections in place to ensure they aren’t discriminated for this, including California’s rule against pregnancy-based harassment as well as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, a federal law. And yet, pregnancy is often treated some sort of deviation from the ideal norm.
Almost all pregnant workers will need some time away from work to attend prenatal appointments. Others will need more time off due to the need for emergency medical care. Unfortunately, too many employers all too often respond to these needs with a penalty – which is illegal. Women go to the hospital for a few days, only to learn when they return home that they’ve lost their jobs, their health insurance and sometimes, ultimately, their homes – told their pregnancy-related hospital stays amounted to “unauthorized absences” or “no-call-no-shows.”
Some of these absences are covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (which allows unpaid time off for medical emergencies) but this is only applicable to companies with 50 or more workers – and employees need to have held that job for at least one year. That means 44 percent of all U.S. workers won’t have that protection. Continue reading