WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — Lawmakers are taking a look at how pregnant women are treated in the workplace.
One Alabama woman told lawmakers on the House Education and Labor Committee that she had to take an unpaid leave of absence when she was pregnant.
“Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of happiness,” says Michelle Durham.
But instead, Durham says she spent nine months anxious and terrified.
Durham was working as an EMT in Alabama when she found out she was pregnant with her first child. Her doctor told her she couldn’t lift anything over 50 pounds. But she says her employer wasn’t willing to give her a lighter work load.
“He told me my only option was to take an unpaid leave or medical absence,” says Durham.
Oregon Democratic Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici says many American women are forced to choose between their financial security and their pregnancy.
Bonamici says The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to pregnant employees.
“Reasonable accommodations can range from providing seating, water, and light duty to excuse pregnant workers from tasks involving dangerous substances,” says Bonamici.
Illinois lawyer Ellen McLaughlin says pregnant workers deserve protection but more work needs to be done before Congress finalizes a plan.
“This is one of my big concerns with the bill it’s known limitations is not defined,” said McLaughlin.