I had been working full-time at a Dollar Tree store on Long Island for three years when I learned I was pregnant in early 2009. Shortly after I became pregnant, I began to work at the cash register, where I had to stand on my feet for my entire shift—eight to ten hours at a time. As my pregnancy progressed, this became very uncomfortable.
I asked for a stool to sit on while working at the register, but my boss denied my request and said, “You can’t get special treatment since a man can’t get pregnant.”
Unfortunately, as my pregnancy continued, I began to experience complications. The pressure from standing all day caused bleeding and premature labor pains. These physical problems landed me in the emergency room every few days. Although I could have kept working if I had been allowed to sit on a stool, because my employer wouldn’t let me, my doctor finally put me on bed rest to get me off my feet.
During this time away from work, I had no paid leave or any other income. Living on one paycheck was a nightmare. I felt terrible about having to depend only on my husband’s income—all the pressure was on him. My other children are older and pitched in to help us too. I recently went into a different Dollar Tree store and saw a woman working while sitting on a stool. She said she wasn’t pregnant, and that was just how their store did things. I only wish my store had a similar policy when I worked there.
Hilda Guzzman is no longer working at Dollar Tree. She is hopeful she will be able to find work later this summer when her child starts school.
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.