Few people realize that getting pregnant can mean losing your job. Just imagine a woman who, eight months pregnant, is fired from her position because she needed a few extra bathroom breaks. That's what happened to Patricia Leahy. In 2008 a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that her firing was fair because her employers were not obligated to accomodate her needs.
This happens everday to pregnant women in the United States, and it happens thanks to a gap between discrimination laws and disability laws.
Federal and state laws ban discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. And amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act require employers to provide reasonable accomodations to disabled employees who need them to do their jobs. But because pregnancy itself is not considered a disability, employers are not obligated to accomodate most pregnant workers in any way.
As a result, thousands of pregnant women are pushed out of jobs that they are perfectly capable of performing -either put on unpaid leave or simply fired-when they request an accomodation to help maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Three -quarters of women now entering the work force will become pregnant on the job, yet holes in our civil rights laws leave this enormous class without the right to modest accomodations that protect them. No pregnant woman in this country should have to choose between her job and a heqalthy pregnancy.