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12 Responses

  1. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 15, 2013 at 9:39 am |

    Thanks for the informative post. ^__^

    Also, in b4 wank to point out that this would treat pregnant women like women with any other temporary disability. That’s not special treatment, that’s taking circumstances into account. You know, like people should.

    1. Kerandria
      Kerandria May 15, 2013 at 9:45 am |

      Treating women like human beings!? Blasphemy!

    2. matlun
      matlun May 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |

      I am curious about this. What is the legal rights of people with temporary disabilities in the US? Ie if I can not lift heavy objects since I have broken my arm, would I be able to get lighter duty and how would this situation differ from issues due to pregnancy?

      I did not think this kind of temporary issue was covered by existing disability legislation, but IANAL nor am I living in the US.

      1. Willard
        Willard May 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm |

        It’s a patchwork Matlun, depending on state and employer. Federally the Family Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks every 12 months for serious illness/injury, pregnancy, and early child care. It’s unpaid, but they have to take you back at the same position/salary you left at. If the injury occurred at work it goes to Worker’s Compensation, there you get paid time off to recuperate. Finally American’s with Disabilities act prohibits discrimination of qualified individuals based on their disability and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations. It doesn’t define pregnancy as an impairment though. Those are the national constants as best I know, after that various states have all sorts of additional stuff they throw in the mix.

        Where I work if you go out on FMLA they make you take paid time off concurrently if you have it. Our bosses are good about finding reasonable accommodations for pregnant women as well. That said, a coworker’s husband who was in trucking had to go out on FMLA when he brought a doctor’s note about an upcoming knee surgery. He’s now not even half-way through recovery and about 80% of his FMLA leave is gone, so she’s pretty sure he basically doesn’t have a job now. Protections for temporarily disabled workers are pretty shitty in general, but it crosses a line when a business makes accommodations for some people but not others.

  2. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet May 15, 2013 at 10:10 am |

    At a restaurant I worked at a while back, one of my pregnant coworkers was having a hard time staying on her feet for 8 hours. Despite having a very slow trickle of customers and the cashier job not requiring one to move from the register, no attempt was made to accomadate her. No use of a stool was allowed, no sitting down for short periods during dead hours, nothing.

    She finally quit after getting extremely dizzy and almost passing out :/

    The reason I’m not optimistic about the PWFA is that there is, as pointed out, already legislation that should make this sort of thing illegal. There is also legislation that’s supposed to prevent this from happening to temporarily disabled workers.

    The light-duty/do-not-lift orders seem to get ignored more often than not, even in cases of temporary disability. “The health code” often trumps the need for a worker to remain hydrated.

    The current worker non-discrimination laws have to work better, if we want them to work well when applied to pregnant people.

    1. sabrina
      sabrina May 15, 2013 at 11:40 am |

      right which is why that stupid code is complete bullshit. The thing is that even if they pass this law there is nothing stores can do. They either ban their employees from eating/drinking while at work or they face having their store shut down.

      1. Alara Rogers
        Alara Rogers May 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

        So change the health code to allow the drinking of water at all times. There is no health risk presented to customers by an employee drinking water.

        Denying humans water for any reason is an unbelievably shitty thing to do, and if there are “health codes” that demand it, we need to repeal those unhealth codes for the sake of the employees. I *have* worked places where water would have been bad for the working environment — in clean rooms, where your skin flakes are also bad and they make you wear something very much like a hazmat suit while you’re working — and since clean room jobs are semiprofessional, anyone who needs a bathroom break or a water cooler break gets one. They’re pains in the ass because you have to go through an airlock, so no one wants to if they can avoid it, and to get food you have to go through *two* airlocks and two changes of costume, so you can’t get food except on authorized breaks and lunch… but as for water and potty, no one is denied those things when they need them. If they can give that to people working in a CLEAN ROOM, where your hair is a hazardous substance, they can give that to ordinary employees working cash registers or doing stocking.

  3. Victoria
    Victoria May 15, 2013 at 6:51 pm |

    I agree with everyone else that this should have been covered by the existing body of law, and it’s a shame that it either isn’t or the provisions in the existing body of law are so poorly enforced that this is even an issue.

    However, I do wonder what employers are supposed to do if no alternative is available. What if there is no way to avoid heavy lifting in the nature of the job and no way to provide an alternative. I’m not in any way siding with an employer who would try to deny a worker deserved accommodations, I really want to know what happens under the legislation if accommodations are not possible.

    Additionally, I’m wondering how the accommodations in this piece of legislation compare to disability/illness accommodations. For example, if an employee who isn’t pregnant suffers from dehydration or cannot lift over a certain weight due to an injury needs an accommodation, could they be denied such accommodations under the law as it currently exists?If so, the issue goes beyond the treatment of pregnant workers and is actually an issue about what accommodations employers are willing to make-they would be more visible among pregnant workers because pregnancy is a very common cause of the conditions discussed, but if it is the case what really needs to be addressed is the employers’ unwillingness to make accommodations for workers who do not meet what they expect the standard level of ability to be, and legislation that addresses this might be more effect than legislation exclusive to pregnancy, as it would address these conditions whatever the cause (pregnancy included). I mean I assume that no one out there thinks that pregnant women shouldn’t be dehydrated but someone suffering from dehydration for other reasons doesn’t deserve accommodations or that a pregnant woman should not be forced to do lifting that would put her at risk but a woman recovering from hysterectomy who has similar lifting restrictions should have to do the lifting. I just think addressing the necessary accommodations for people whose embodied experience limits what they can do either temporarily or permanently might be more effective than honing in on a single cause, when, as some people have already suggested that the accommodations for people with injuries or temporary disabilities/impairments are lacking.

    1. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet May 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

      I’m not really sure what the legal stance for the company is if they claim there are no light tasks/non-lifting that can be found. A lot of them certainly use it as an excuse to get rid of people.

      It’s really a bit of a moot point, because I can’t think of a single case where most employers couldn’t find alternative work, especially with corporate employers. In almost every case it will be nothing but a sorry excuse.

      There’s a study on some of the discriminatory practices against both disabled workers and pregnant workers by Walmart here: http://walmart.3cdn.net/2851551578dcac476e_jrm6iyd87.pdf

      That gives a good picture of what workers, especially low-wage workers, are up against.

    2. Alara Rogers
      Alara Rogers May 15, 2013 at 10:44 pm |

      Generally speaking, the only way the company literally has no other people who could handle the lifting would be if the company is very, very tiny. Even companies where everything is organized around lifting, such as UPS, is going to have jobs available for working the scanner, answering the phones, data entry… so you could take a driver and temporarily put her on some other job, and divide up her route among multiple other drivers so no one else has more than one or two stops.

      Very tiny companies could run into this issue. But very tiny companies are often highly motivated to solve it, because very tiny companies disproportionately hire relatives. If the pregnant woman who can’t lift is carrying your grandchild, you’ll find accomodations for her.

  4. MashBengal
    MashBengal May 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

    I know at a certain major retailer, the no water policy was put in place after customers complained about cashiers and other people needing water. A basic human function was the cause of distress among the patrons.

    It wasn’t until nearly half of the cashier staff fainted from dehydration on a humid, summer day in a poorly ventilated building did we get our water back.

    If I may point out that many of the above mentioned are nation wide retailers who are trying to set the standard on worker rights. Disgusting.

  5. MashBengal
    MashBengal May 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

    I know at a certain major retailer, the no water policy was put in place after customers complained about cashiers and other people needing water. A basic human function was the cause of distress among the patrons.

    It wasn’t until nearly half of the cashier staff fainted from dehydration on a humid, summer day in a poorly ventilated building did we get our water back.

    If I may point out that many of the above mentioned are nation wide retailers who are trying to set the standard on worker rights. Disgusting.

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