Almost 35 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act made it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of her pregnancy, women still face discrimination on the job when they become pregnant. This report details what happens when some workers ask for temporary modifications of their job duties because of pregnancy, such as avoiding heavy lifting, staying off high ladders, or being permitted to sit down during a long shift. These are many of the same types of job adjustments typically provided to workers with disabilities, but pregnancy is not a disability. Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act’s protections, pregnant workers’ requests are often denied — leaving many pregnant women without a salary because they are forced to quit, are fired, or are pushed out onto unpaid leave.

Over the past year and a half, A Better Balance and the National Women’s Law Center have spoken with dozens of women across the country and across the economic spectrum who have experienced job loss, diminished income, or pregnancy complications or loss after their employers refused to make reasonable job adjustments while they were pregnant, even as they accommodated workers with limitations arising out of disability or injury. These women are often surprised to find that their employers are unwilling to make even the smallest changes, and are shocked that many employers do not recognize when they are breaking the law by denying these accommodations.

Throughout the report, we highlight the stories of pregnant women who were denied the temporary accommodations they sought in order to continue working safely. As a result, these women lost income, lost their jobs, or continued to work at risk to their health. Their first-hand accounts shine a light on the need to ensure that pregnant women are not pushed out of work at the very moment their families’ financial needs are increasing, when reasonable adjustments would allow them to continue to do their jobs. They demonstrate the need for policies, enforcement efforts, and laws that ensure that pregnant women will not be treated worse than workers with disabilities, injuries, or other physical limitations.