I was a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service for nine years in Minnesota. When I became pregnant in the summer of 2012, my doctor placed me on a heat restriction—limiting my time outside on extremely hot days. Although my employer provided indoor work for employees with on-the-job injuries and accommodated people with disabilities, I was never permitted to work inside. Even though there were a record number of extremely hot days that summer, my boss refused to allow me to work indoors. For each hot day I wasn’t able to work inside I had to take a day off—using up one of my allotted paid sick days or annual leave days. This was the leave I had planned to use for my recovery after childbirth, since my employer didn’t offer any paid maternity leave.
As a result, I didn’t have any paid leave left when my baby was born. I was the primary breadwinner in the family, but during my maternity leave, it was all on my husband’s shoulders. Going without my salary right when I had the added expense of a new baby was very difficult for me and my family.
I feel like I was punished for being pregnant. It’s clear that company policies need to change.
Diana Teigland is currently caring for her son and pursuing her education.
It Shouldn’t Be a Heavy Lift: Fair Treatment for Pregnant Workers, a report from A Better Balance and the National Women’s Law Center, features this and other stories of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Click here to read the other stories and learn more.