Single mother wants pay protections for women during pregnancy

Frank S. Clowney III

A single mother’s life is one of many roles. She must be able use a firm hand to guide and gentle hand to heal. On top of this, she is frequently the primary or even sole breadwinner in her family’s household.

Certainly many single mothers in California will be able to identify with a woman who recently spoke in front a U.S. Senate committee. Her journey from Queens, New York, to the nation’s capital actually began with an incident which occurred during her pregnancy with her second child.

The woman stated that she had been employed with a company for two years, doing work that was physically demanding. After pulling a stomach muscle, she was advised by her doctor to refrain from lifting heavy objects through the duration of her pregnancy.

When informed of the situation, the woman’s manager responded by telling her that company policy dictated workers with such restrictions could not remain active as employees. The woman was summarily terminated.

Following her dismissal, the woman, now visibly pregnant, could not find work. Not long after, the woman gave birth. This meant she now was single, had no job, no insurance and two young children.

The woman told the committee a harrowing story of trying to use the meager blessings of unemployment checks and food stamps to keep her family nourished. Things got so bad that she would pour water on the elder child’s cereal because she did not have enough money for milk.

The woman’s appeal to the Senate was simple; she would like to see federal legislation passed granting paycheck protections for women who are pregnant. The protections would extend through the pregnancy and into a post-birth period.

This woman’s story represents how vulnerable single expectant mothers can be to the whims of uncaring employers. Fortunately, in California, legal protections exist to help you should you be in a similar situation.

Given the circumstances, you may be eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave or for the benefits afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you are facing hardships caused by an unaccommodating employer, you may benefit by having an understanding attorney on your side to help correct the situation.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Fired Single Mom Asks Senate Why Women Don’t Have Better Workplace Protections,” Laura Bassett, May 20, 2014