Opinion: Disability law should cover pregnant workers
Jeannette Cox writes that most women in the U.S. can lose their jobs if a pregnancy interferes with even small duties.
January 11th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Opinion: Disability law should cover pregnant workers

Editor's note: Jeannette Cox is an associate professor of law at the University of Dayton who teaches employment discrimination. Her recent work analyzes the relationship between the Americans with Disabilities Act and traditional civil rights laws. She presented her paper "Pregnancy as 'Disability' and the Amended Americans with Disabilities Act" on January 5, at the American Association of Law Schools annual meeting in Washington.

By Jeannette Cox, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In most of the country, employers can force pregnant workers out of the workplace when their pregnancy interferes with their normal job duties.

Heather Wiseman, a retail sales associate, lost her job because consuming water while working, an activity necessary to maintain a healthy pregnancy, violated store policy.

Victoria Serednyj, a nursing home activity director, lost her job because her pregnancy interfered with her ability to lift heavy tables. Her employer terminated her employment even though lifting tables "took up a small part, roughly five to 10 minutes" of her day and her co-workers volunteered to perform this task.

Workers covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, by contrast, can continue working despite their physical limitations.

The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 broadened the ADA to include many short-term and relatively minor physical conditions. Pregnant women who experience comparable physical limitations should also have the opportunity to receive accommodations that will enable them to continue working.

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Filed under: Disabilities • Health • What we think • Women
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. early signs of pregnancy

    Howdy! This post could not be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    March 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    It's trully sad that the richest country in the world has to resort to calling pregnancy as "disability" in order to treat mothers properly. I am an American living in Germany and I can tell you that they certainly have more human(e) priorities here as compared to the States.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |