July 21, 2014 — Accommodating pregnant women with "slight job modifications could help them stay in the workforce at no risk to their health," Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser to President Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, writes in a CNN opinion piece. However, "[i]n so many cases, modest accommodations ... are denied pregnant women, forcing expectant moms to choose between their health and that of their pregnancies, and their jobs," she adds.
Jarrett notes that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week issued new guidelines to remind employers that they are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on pregnancy. The guidance "will translate into real relief for countless women, especially low-income women who are working hard to support their families," Jarrett argues.
Jarrett recounts her own experience working while pregnant, "worrying that" it was "causing [her] colleagues to question whether [she] could keep up." Her experience reinforced for her that "[p]regnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are otherwise qualified to perform, and certainly should not be a basis for treating women less favorably than other similarly situated workers," she writes.
"The EEOC is helping employees and job seekers learn more about their rights," Jarrett writes, adding, "And, as importantly, it is helping employers -- the vast majority of which want to do the right thing and only need the technical assistance to do so -- understand their obligations" (Jarrett, CNN, 7/20).