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Discrimination Against Pregnant Firefighters in D.C.

Most women who work in a physically demanding role know that if or when they become pregnant they will be placed on some kind of light duty, or a desk duty option.

Well female firefighters in Washington D.C. are now finding that is not an option anymore and they are placed on unpaid leave from work, and must depend on disability insurance if it is available, or if they have opted to pay into the program.

A policy change that went into effect in March is to blame. The new policy restricts injured or ill firefighters and paramedics from performing limited-duty assignments, or desk jobs, for longer than 30 days, according to the department’s revised order book.

But the problem is… pregnant women are not ill or injured so they should not be considered as such.  They are pregnant and fully capable, not disabled or injured.  They may not be able to perform the full scope of their job, but they are by far not ill or disabled.

Under the new policy, women are allowed their 30 days of desk or light duty, then are forced to use sick days or accrued leave, of which most female firefighters use for a formal maternity leave.  Posing a new problem of women who just gave birth being forced to come back to work earlier than they probably should, over monetary concerns.

This specific fire department has a horrible track record with pregnant women also.

The Washington Times reported:

The fire department already has a poor track record with pregnant employees.

In 2001, an EMS supervisor told a class of medical technician trainees that they could lose their jobs if they became pregnant within their first year of employment. Three female trainees terminated their pregnancies based on the advice. The supervisor resigned in 2003 after the scandal was brought to light.

Horrible, and completely unthinkable, and a step backwards for women in the work place!

I believe the Washington D.C. fire department needs to write a new policy, instead of lumping all disabled and ill people who need desk leave for more than 30 days into one category, they need to write a specific policy for pregnant females to cater to their needs and stop the discrimination and pressure to abort.

What do you think about the female fire fighters case in Washington D.C.?

photo: flickr.com/expertinfamily

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