creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
diane dimond
Diane Dimond
15 Nov 2014
Lost in the 'Right to Die' Debate

While many are debating whether more states should pass "right to die" laws, Robert Mitton is methodically … Read More.

8 Nov 2014
One Proud Cop

Generally speaking, law enforcement types are a quietly proud bunch. They are proud to put on the uniform … Read More.

1 Nov 2014
Voters Deserve Truth in Political Ads

Are you absolutely sick to death of all the snarky campaign ads on television? Yeah, me, too. Nov. 5 cannot … Read More.

Pregnancy in America Not so Jolly Good

Comment

Well, well, well. Kate Middleton, aka the Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting a baby! Her husband, Prince William, is reported to be ecstatic. The people of Great Britain are utterly delighted that the Royal Family will be soon have a new heir. And they are sending up a collective prayer that the expectant mother will soon get over a bad case of hyperemesis gravidarum (a sort of extra wicked morning sickness), which caused Kate to be hospitalized.

Isn't it sweet that a whole country is in such a jolly good mood since the baby news was announced! It seems the royal pregnancy is being celebrated all over the world.

Let's compare and contrast.

The pampered Duchess won't have to worry about health insurance, hospital costs or missing a paycheck during her pregnancy. Nope, she will be giving birth to the third in line for the royal throne, so all the nuisance of medical paperwork and bills will be taken care of automatically by the British government.

Here in America, things are very different for pregnant women. We don't mollycoddle them much, and it is not unusual to see an expectant mother continue to work until close to their due date — mostly for economic reasons.

A law passed in 1993 (the Family and Medical Leave Act) protects the job of a new parent if they want to take unpaid leave after a birth or adoption. And there is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which requires employers to treat pregnant mothers the same as they would any other employee with a temporary limitation.

For example, if an employer grants lighter duty for a person with a temporary bad back or for someone who just returned to work after hernia surgery, then it must also be granted to a pregnant woman.

But guess what: There is little enforcement of the law. Employers fire pregnant women anyway by coming up with all sorts of dubious reasons. It's a shame because women currently make up about half the U.S. workforce. And for an increasing number of families, Mom is the primary breadwinner. She's also, of course, the one who delivers future new taxpayers to the nation.

Among the horror stories: Victoria Seredny worked as the activity director in a nursing home. When her doctor ordered that she not lift heavy objects following a miscarriage scare — something she was required to do just a few minutes a day — her boss refused to allow other workers to help her, even the ones who volunteered their assistance. Victoria was fired for failure to perform her duties.

Heather Wiseman's pregnancy caused her to have recurring bladder infections, and her doctor told her to be sure to stay hydrated all day.

She began to carry a water bottle with her when she went to her job on the sales floor at Wal-Mart. Her boss informed her that only cashiers were allowed to have water bottles, and when she continued to show up with her doctor-ordered bottle she was fired for insubordination.

Peggy Young worked for United Parcel Services, and on occasion, her delivery duties required that she lift packages as heavy at 70 pounds. When she became pregnant, she asked for a lighter assignment. UPS denied the request even though the company had accommodated other employees who had been injured in a car accident or lost their driver's license due to a drunk driving conviction!

These three women all sued their employers and lost. Appeals are underway.

Enter now what seems to be a long-overdue proposed law called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. It was introduced in Congress earlier this year. It sounds good on paper, but its language makes me cringe a bit. The proposal requires that employers offer pregnant employees the same kind of accommodation that disabled citizens get under the Americans With Disabilities Act, unless "the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business."

Well, excuse me. As a formerly pregnant woman, I didn't consider myself disabled. Fat, maybe, and like a sponge that had absorbed too much fluid — but certainly not disabled! Why doesn't Congress just enforce (or add amendments with some teeth) to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

Or better yet, why doesn't the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Department of Justice step up and invoke Title VII, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination?

So many times we have laws in place that, if properly enforced, could fix myriad problems. Instead, some politician decides to write up a whole new law that, of course, takes forever to pass in our paralyzed-by-partisanship Congress.

Does anyone really think that both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, consumed with fiscal cliffs and other major economic issues, will prioritize passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act? Yeah, me neither.

Discrimination against pregnant mothers could end tomorrow if there was a concerted, unified effort to do so. Here's a suggested message from Washington to employers: You are not legally entitled to fire a pregnant woman because she needs an extra bathroom break or can't lift a heavy box, or because she's not the svelte figure you'd like greeting customers at the front desk. Case closed.

Hey, isn't this the administration that boasted how much they do for women? Then prove it.

Visit Diane Dimond's official website at www.dianedimond.com for investigative reporting, polls and more. To find out more about Diane Dimond and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
It should also be noted that the USA is the only developed country in the world that does not grant any form of paid pregnancy leave whatever. China is a rising productive power and still gives 3 months of paid leave at full salary; Japan who makes all the best stuff gives three months at 60% salary.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Paul W
Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:32 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Diane Dimond
Nov. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Linda Chavez
Linda ChavezUpdated 21 Nov 2014
David Sirota
David SirotaUpdated 21 Nov 2014
David Limbaugh
David LimbaughUpdated 21 Nov 2014

22 Aug 2009 Prescription for Trouble

1 Sep 2012 Crimes Against Journalism

2 Mar 2013 The Papal Conclave: Time for the Church to Clean up Its Act