Back to Next Generation

Ann O'Leary: Pregnancy Discrimination Has No Place in Today’s America


(310) 395-2544


Pregnancy Discrimination Has No Place in Today’s America

Statement by Ann O’Leary, Senior Vice President and Director of the Children & Families Program, Next Generation


There should be no doubt about it: today’s ruling by the Supreme Court provides clarity and relief under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that pregnant women have been seeking for years. Simply, the Court made clear that when Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, it did indeed mean that employers must treat pregnant women the same as other workers who are temporarily disabled and similar in their ability or inability to work. This means that if an employer has a policy that workers with temporary disabilities, such as a heart condition or cancer or a knee-injury, are provided with accommodations that allow them to sit while on the job or to not lift heavy packages, then pregnant women, too, must be given this accommodation.  

This certainly is a big deal for women. When pregnant women are not provided an accommodation by their employer, they risk losing their jobs and income, as well as their employer-sponsored health insurance at a time when they need it most. These types of employment decisions have been happening to women for years, but they have become even more impactful now that mothers are breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of families in America.

The Court’s decision in Peggy Young’s case does not provide an affirmative right to pregnant workers to receive an accommodation. Instead, it says that if other workers with temporary disabilities receive an accommodation, employers must also provide accommodations to pregnant workers if they fit into the class of workers covered by those policies.  That is why Congress should still act to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to require an affirmative policy for pregnant workers. While today’s decision is not perfect, it is an important step forward for America’s families.  We look forward to working with Congress to urge further action to support pregnant workers.




About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans:  The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.

Learn more at, and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.

Join the Conversation