Every session of Congress since 2012, a group of bipartisan legislators has introduced a bill to update the short 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which currently states that a company has to accommodate pregnant women if it is already doing so for other employees who are "similar in their ability or inability to work." What that means in practice, Rep. Jarrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) tells The New York Times, is that if companies "treat their nonpregnant employees terribly, they have every right to treat their pregnant employees terribly as well."
A promising 2015 effort to update the act to mirror the Americans With Disabilities Act stalled after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) balked and introduced a weaker alternative measure, the Times reports, noting that XPO Logistics has several warehouses in Memphis, in Alexander's home state. The bulk of the Times article recounts miscarriages at an XPO warehouse that serves Verizon. The women say they asked for less strenuous work when they got pregnant, brought in doctors' notes, and had their requests denied by supervisors. One of the miscarriages was this year, while the three others happened in 2014, before XPO acquired the previous warehouse operator.
One woman also died of a heart attack a year ago in the windowless warehouse, the Times reports, and "managers told workers to keep moving boxes as her body lay on the floor." Verizon said it is "deeply troubled but these allegations" at the XPO warehouse, while XPO said the allegations either "predate XPO's acquisition," were not reported to management, or were lies spread by Teamsters working to unionize the warehouse.
"Warehouses are among the fastest growing workplaces in the country, employing more than a million Americans," the Times says. You can read some of the heartbreaking stories of loss by women who miscarried after long shifts lifting heavy loads, were asked to get abortions, or were demoted after their miscarriage, at The New York Times. Peter Weber