|Gardere Labor and Employment Attorney Carrie Hoffman in Loop21.com article |
Will Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Lighten Women's Load?
|October 1, 2012 11:42 pm|
When Shelly from Indiana became pregnant, she was working two jobs. During the day, she packed items to ship for a medical supply company; overnight, she stocked shelves for a major national retail chain. When her doctor advised that she not lift more than 20 pounds, the retailer refused to modify her responsibilities. She miscarried shortly thereafter. When she became pregnant again months later and communicated the same restrictions, she was fired.
Stories like Shelly's have inspired the National Women's Law Center to champion the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill that would make it illegal for employers to fire women who are unable to perform all their job duties due to their pregnancy, or who seek feasible workplace accommodations for the same reason.
Carrie Hoffman is a labor and employment lawyer for Gardere Wynne Sewell, who represents companies not individual workers. Hoffman believes the sensitive nature of the bill will have it being left in limbo until after the election-if ever.
"I don't think it's going to pass before the November election because nothing important ever does." Hoffman said. "But I don't feel like my clients are out there trying not to provide a safe work environment. If the job requires lifting, the questions that always arise are, 'How often are they really lifting 40 pounds? And, are they ever really doing that solo?' because most non-pregnant women aren't dead-lifting that weight without assistance either. So, the issue is, what's really required? And if they're eliminating that duty for an employee for whatever reason, be it pregnancy or disability, is that overburdening other workers?"
Copyright © 2012 Clearsky Interactive, LLC.
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