Women and our families care about ending pregnancy discrimination once and for all, and we are worth the Senate’s time.
In 2019, I was working as a cashier for a large grocery store chain in Louisiana when I became pregnant with my second child. It was a joyful time in my life, but my shifts at the grocery store were physically challenging. I was on my feet all day and the store did not have an electric conveyor belt, so I had to pick up the customers’ items myself—even things like heavy packages of bottled water.
When I was about four months pregnant, I almost had a miscarriage. My doctor recommended that I take occasional breaks at work to rest and to stop doing any heavy lifting. I thought that my employer would easily be able to accommodate me. There were other positions that did not require moving heavy objects, like working at self check-out.
However, when the store’s management found out about my restrictions, they pushed me out of my job.
It was devastating to lose my paycheck with a baby on the way. I also had another child at home to support and the pandemic had just begun. I used up all of my savings and I eventually had to move in with my mother because we could not afford rent. I was diagnosed with anxiety and suffered multiple panic attacks. I applied for other jobs but no one wanted to hire me while I was visibly pregnant.
When I was about four months pregnant, I almost had a miscarriage. My doctor recommended I take occasional breaks at work to rest and to stop doing any heavy lifting. … When the store’s management found out about my restrictions, they pushed me out of my job.
The stress and economic hardship were overwhelming and I quickly realized that I was one of many pregnant workers facing the same challenges. We all wanted to keep working but we couldn’t get the modest accommodations we needed to stay safe.
The pandemic created an additional barrier for workers like me. Black women who were cashiers faced the greatest job loss during the early phases of the pandemic.
Now, three years later, I am in the same position, looking for work and worried no one will hire me because I am pregnant.
I realized I had to speak out. I have become an advocate, joining with the organization A Better Balance and women across the country to demand that Congress pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bill would close a legal loophole in the landmark Pregnancy Discrimination Act by ensuring that all employers provide pregnant and postpartum workers with modest accommodations on the job—like a stool, a water bottle, a job without heavy lifting or a space to pump breastmilk.
The bill has passed in the House twice but it still hasn’t gotten a vote in the Senate, even though it has enough Republican and Democratic votes to pass. It is urgently needed and wildly popular. A recent poll showed 90 percent of Americans support the bill.
Advocates and moms have spent years pushing for this bill but Senate Majority Leader Schumer still hasn’t scheduled a vote on the bill, despite this being a critical issue for women and for all voters.
This election season, voters have made it clear that they are worried about their families’ financial well-being and women’s health.
That’s why I recently joined with 125 other working mothers who have also experienced pregnancy discrimination to send an open letter calling on Schumer to hold a vote and pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, as the Senate returns to Washington this month.
As a frontline worker during the COVID-19 pandemic, I appreciate the thanks from politicians for my work, but actions speak louder than words. We need the Senate to take action.
Almost three out of four women continue to work during their pregnancies. We deserve the modest accommodations that will enable us to keep working and stay healthy during pregnancy and right after childbirth. This should not be too much to ask, especially for frontline workers like me.
Women and our families care about ending pregnancy discrimination once and for all, and we are worth the Senate’s time. We care about our pocketbooks and passing legislation that will help our families and the economy. Before it’s too late, Schumer must show pregnant workers and mothers like me the respect we deserve by calling for a standalone vote to pass this bill.
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