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Pregnancy discrimination unites diverse advocates

Many political organizations and advocates are expressing concern about pregnancy discrimination in workplaces in New York and across the country. A recent media report drew attention to the extent of pregnancy discrimination at some of the biggest companies in America. Indeed, the report emphasized that pregnant women had been refused accommodations, denied promotions and even fired after becoming pregnant. New York's state governor, Andrew Cuomo, has ordered an investigation into these reports of discrimination, saying that it represented a threat to women's rights and equality on the job.

Because pregnancy discrimination touches on issues that are close to the heart of many different groups, it can bring together advocates from widely different political positions. Feminist organizations and women's legal advocacy groups have long led the charge against this type of workplace discrimination, but they are joined by some conservative and faith-based groups who have battled with these same organizations on matters related to reproductive rights. This unusual group of supporters drew attention in 2014 when one woman pursued a pregnancy discrimination claim against her employer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This range of political involvement in these cases goes back to the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978. These advocates often have widely disparate opinions about what that represents about women's rights in general on the job or the place of gender in the workplace. Initially, pregnancy discrimination was considered a form of sex discrimination, but after a negative Supreme Court case, the law was passed with not only feminist advocacy but also conservative arguments about family values.

While pregnant women may have a wide range of political beliefs themselves, when they face employment discrimination, they can take action. An employment lawyer can work with a pregnant woman who has been denied a promotion, fired or denied accommodations to seek justice and compensation for her damages.

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