EJW Fellow Christine Tschiderer Joins the Washington Lawyers’ Committee to Combat Pregnancy Discrimination

By Christine Tschiderer

Three-quarters of women entering today’s workforce will become pregnant while employed. Most will continue working well into their ninth month of pregnancy, and more than 40% will return to work less than three months after giving birth. Yet many American workplaces continue to be hostile to pregnant women and working mothers.

Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or pregnancy. In the District of Columbia the law goes even further, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of one’s family responsibilities. Simply put, the law protects women from being treated differently from other employees due to their pregnancy or caregiving obligations. This is significant for the District’s many working mothers – many of them single mothers – whose jobs provide crucial income for their families and who simultaneously shoulder substantial caregiving responsibilities.

Yet too often pregnant women are targeted for harassment and humiliation in the workplace, and working mothers are retaliated against for taking leave to care for a newborn or sick child. Unfortunately the protections against such discriminatory treatment are not widely understood or simply go unenforced. Over the next two years, I hope to change that.

I am thrilled to join the Washington Lawyers’ Committee as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Crowell & Moring, LLP. My practice will focus on providing direct representation to help women secure necessary family-related accommodations and challenge workplace practices that disproportionately harm pregnant women and working mothers. I will also engage in education and outreach to increase awareness of legal protections amongst the most vulnerable working mothers – immigrants and women working in low-wage, unskilled jobs. Through this work, I hope to support the District’s working mothers so that they can focus on what they do best – supporting their families.

If you believe that you have been a victim of pregnancy or family responsibilities discrimination, contact paralegal Ada Lin at Ada_Lin@washlaw.org or (202)-319-1000.

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