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Advocates push to make pregnancy akin to a temporary disability

Disability laws on the state and federal level that protect Florida individuals from discrimination in the workplace are well established. It may have taken some time, but a lot of employers are seeing the benefits of following the Americans With Disabilities Act and providing their injured or disabled employees with some reasonable accommodation.

The benefits mentioned above are certainly not limited to avoiding lawsuits either. The Job Accommodation Network found that, of those employers that took the extra step to accommodate their employees, 71 percent said that it helped increase the disabled employee's productivity. Another 57 percent said that reasonable accommodations helped increase the productivity of the entire company.

Why then are so many employers still struggling with giving pregnant women a little accommodation? Advocates for women's rights argue that pregnancy should be treated similar to a temporary disability.

There are numerous stories where pregnant women are discriminated against for simple and temporary needs. They aren't given the reasonable accommodations that a disabled worker at the same company would.

For instance, Walmart provided accommodations to a disabled worker with a lifting restriction. When a pregnant woman's doctor ordered the same, she wasn't given similar accommodations at the same facility.

"Pregnancy discrimination is alive and well in the workplace today," said Director Liz Watson of the Workplace Justice for Women. Advocates simply ask that instead of the current language, the 1978 Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act be amended to include explicit language about reasonable accommodation that matches the language in the ADA.

Source: Take Part, "Making the Case for Treating Pregnancy Like a Disability (Really)," Shannon Kelley, March 5, 2014

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