While many women in Arizona may expect that U.S. senators enjoy top-of-the-line protections against discrimination based on pregnancy and parenting, in far too many circumstances, this is not the case. Attention has been drawn to the issue after Sen. Tammy Duckworth became the first sitting senator to give birth. This means that she may be unable to take part in votes and debates while she is on parental leave because senators must be present in person in order to vote. Children are also not allowed on the Senate floor.
There is no formal parental leave policy for senators, a common phenomenon that can hinder parents’ advancement on the job. Many working parents face workplace discrimination linked to their role as a parent or their pregnancy. Despite legislation like the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, working parents continue to face penalties, up to and including job loss.
For example, one police officer in Illinois is suing her department because she was forced to take seven months of unpaid leave when she had a pregnancy requiring a desk assignment. While other workers with medical conditions receive non-patrol, desk-based jobs during their convalescence, she was denied similar treatment for pregnancy. Another worker is suing AT&T Mobility because the company refused to consider her necessary medical appointments for her pregnancy as excused absences, despite allowing other forms of absences.
Employment discrimination can continue to be a major factor in many workers’ ability to progress or even remain in their jobs. Whether due to a medical condition like pregnancy, sex, race, religion or disability, workers can face unfair or unjust treatment on the job. Workers who have suffered discrimination and have lost opportunities, pay or work as a result may consult with an employment lawyer. An attorney may be able to help employees defend their rights in the workplace.