First Shift Justice Project is happy to announce that we are expanding our services in Virginia. First Shift Justice Project (https://www.firstshift.org/) is a DC-based legal services nonprofit that seeks to help women who work in low-wage jobs and are victims of pregnancy and mothering discrimination. We also help women who seek accommodations from their employers for their pregnancies or related medical conditions, wish to take FMLA leave, or are applying for paid family leave benefits in the District of Columbia.
In the past, First Shift has primarily helped women who live and work in DC and Maryland. Virginia had relatively weaker legal protections for pregnant/mothering workers. However, in April 2020, Virginia passed provisions adding to the Virginia Human Rights Act to remedy this disparity. They created a cause of action related to unlawful discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This means that workers in Virginia, who work at places with more than five employees, now have the right to sue their employers if they face discrimination because they are pregnant or have recently had a child. They also have a right to sue if their employers deny them accommodations for the pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical conditions.
For women facing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, this means you have a right to accommodations at your job related to your medical condition. These medical conditions are a direct outgrowth of being pregnant and giving birth, which means you are eligible for accommodations under the amendments to the Virginia Human Rights Act. Examples of accommodations are included below, but they are not exhaustive. You can work with your medical providers to come up with ideas for accommodations that are right for you. Your employer does not need to grant you the specific accommodations that you ask for, but they do need to participate in an interactive process with you to figure out what meets your needs without putting an undue hardship on the company. Your employer can only require you to bring in medical certification in order to receive your accommodation if they also require non-pregnant employees requesting temporary adjustments to their jobs to bring them.
First Shift Justice Project is available to help you with legal concerns you may have about your employer as it relates to your pregnancy, PMAD, or other health issues in your perinatal period. We can help at all stages of the accommodations process- whether you need us to facilitate communications with your employer, if your employer refuses to participate in the interactive process necessary for receiving an accommodation, if your employer is asking for what seems like an excessive amount of medical information to justify your accommodation, or if you are refused your accommodation and forced to quit or stop working. We can also help if you feel you have been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, your time breastfeeding, or your other perinatal health conditions. If you are in need of services from First Shift Justice Project, please call 202-644-9043 or visit our website at https://www.firstshift.org/get-legal-help.