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News From The Field

NoVo Grant Will Fight Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

21 May 2013
BY UC Hastings College of Law

The Center for WorkLife Law (WLL) at UC Hastings College of the Law has received a $30,000 grant from the NoVo Foundation to support the development of a working group of employment lawyers and Ob/Gyn doctors, and others to advance women’s economic rights.

“We are grateful to the NoVo Foundation for funding work that will help low-income and blue-collar women throughout the country,” says Joan Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law.

The funds from the NoVo Foundation will support WLL’s new Pregnancy Accommodation Working Group, which has been established to help pregnant women–particularly low-income workers–workers receive the accommodations they need to keep their jobs. Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman unfavorably in the workplace due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Women experiencing this type of discrimination are often low-wage, minority workers, employed in hourly positions, supporting children, partners, and other family members. These jobs are a lifeline for many of the women facing pregnancy discrimination — lifelines that are all too frequently eliminated just when they are most needed.

The Pregnancy Accommodation Working Group’s goal is to develop novel legal theories to establish that current law requires a wide range of pregnancy accommodations, and to disseminate those theories to over a thousand employment lawyers nationwide. Working with doctors from the University of California, San Francisco, they also will develop and disseminate Model Pregnancy Accommodation Notes to thousands of Ob/Gyn doctors nationwide.

By partnering with and disseminating information to employment lawyers and Ob/Gyn doctors, the Pregnancy Accommodation Working Group empowers both groups with the tools they need to help ensure employers provide work-related accommodations to pregnant women.