Matukaitis said she has seen that pregnant women are losing their jobs because they might need to use the bathroom "more frequently than 'normal,' and because they may need to sit down periodically. They are losing their jobs because they need to pump breast milk to feed their babies."
Donnicia Venters of Houston said she lost her job after she requested to pump breast milk in a backroom at her job with a debt collection agency. A judge recently ruled that was not sex or pregnancy discrimination.
Matukaitis said cases such Beamer's are more common today than they were decades ago.
"When working women become pregnant, many have expressed feeling as if they are walking a proverbial tightrope and could lose their jobs at any second," she said. "When pregnant women are fired from their jobs, everyone suffers."
Matukatitis said a result of pregnancy discrimination and mothers' losing their jobs could be increased applications for government benefits, including unemployment compensation, medical assistance, and the federally funded Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.
"Pregnant workers and their families desperately need protection from the government to regulate and hold these employers accountable for their actions," she said.
Sharon Terman, senior staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center's Gender Equity Program, said harassment of low-wage pregnant women in particular is "quite common."
"And women of color experience discrimination not just on pregnancy but on race and national origin as well," she said.
Terman also said forced leave occurs early on in pregnancy when a woman wants and needs to keep working.
"Then when a woman does need to leave, she has already exhausted her time off," she said.