Democratic Women Push For Pregnancy Protection Bill

Nov 7, 2013

A billboard touting the law shown at Wednesday's press conference.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski

A group of female lawmakers is filing bills in the Florida Legislature strengthening legal protections for pregnant women.

Stephanie Mulherin was working at a Tallahassee restaurant when found out she was pregnant with her second child. But she says almost as soon as she told her boss, her hours began to shrink and her boss began remarking about her pregnancy.

“My employer, every day I would work, he would tell me that I was too big for his restaurant, I could not work weekends because I took up too much space," Mulherin says.  "Why was I having a second child if my family did not financially support me?”

Mulherin says only after she threatened to sue did her employer start to treat her better. Under terms of companion bills filed by Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) and Rep.Lori Berman (D-Lantana), discriminating on the basis of pregnancy would fall into the same class of illegal act as discriminating against someone’s age, gender or race. And, Berman notes, pregnant women must be treated the same as temporarily disabled workers.

“For example, if an employer reassigns a worker with a broken leg, the employer must do so for a pregnant woman,” Berman says.

Thompson says Florida law is so vague that judges have previously declared longstanding federal protections don’t apply to Sunshine State plaintiffs.