Pregnancy Discrimination Can Lead To Miscarriages And More, New York Times Reports

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This hour originally aired on Oct. 24, 2018.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Harrowing stories of discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. It’s rampant and in some cases, can lead to miscarriage. We’ll take a deep dive into The New York Times investigation.


Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times reporter covering finance. (@jbsgreenberg)

Natalie Kitroeff, New York Times reporter covering the economy. (@Nataliekitro)

Joan Williams, professor of law at University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Director of the Center for WorkLife Law, which runs the initiative Pregnant @ Work. (@JoanCWilliams)

From The Reading List

New York Times: "Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination" — "Pregnancy discrimination is widespread in corporate America. Some employers deny expecting mothers promotions or pay raises; others fire them before they can take maternity leave. But for women who work in physically demanding jobs, pregnancy discrimination often can come with even higher stakes.

"The New York Times reviewed thousands of pages of court and other public records involving workers who said they had suffered miscarriages, gone into premature labor or, in one case, had a stillborn baby after their employers rejected their pleas for assistance — a break from flipping heavy mattresses, lugging large boxes and pushing loaded carts.

They worked at a hospital, a post office, an airport, a grocery store, a prison, a fire department, a restaurant, a pharmaceutical company and several hotels."

The Cut: "It’s Perfectly Legal for Companies to Put Pregnant Women at Risk of Miscarriage" — "In a disturbing new investigation published this weekend, the New York Times spoke to several women who suffered pregnancy losses while working physically demanding jobs. In some cases, the women brought in letters from their doctors recommending they take on lighter duties or shorter shifts, which they say their supervisors ignored. As the Times points out, this cruel refusal to accommodate the needs of pregnant women, and the willingness to put their health and the health of their pregnancies at risk, is often completely legal.

"Currently, the only federal law in place to protect pregnant individuals is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which says a company only has to make accommodations for a pregnant employee if they are already doing so for other workers 'similar in their ability or inability to work.' So, if a company isn’t giving nonpregnant employees more breaks or shorter shifts, they don’t have to give them to pregnant employees either.

"In other words, as New York congressman Jerrold Nadler told the Times, if companies 'treat their nonpregnant employees terribly, they have every right to treat their pregnant employees terribly as well.' "

This program aired on December 31, 2018.


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