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Should pregnancy be considered a disability?

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A law professor south of the border thinks pregnancy should be considered a disability.

Jeannette Cox, an associate law professor at the University of Dayton, in Ohio, says the U.S. federal government should expand the Americans with Disabilities Act to include pregnant women.

"The goal there is of course to get pregnant women accommodations so they can continue working as [long as]they can hopefully up to the moment of birth," Prof. Cox said in a statement.

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In her research, Prof. Cox, an employment discrimination expert, found that U.S. courts have maintained that employers do not have to go out of their way to accommodate pregnant women who are dealing with shortness of breath, prolonged standing or sitting or other typical things a pregnant woman might have to deal with at work because they are all "part and parcel of a normal pregnancy."

"This reluctance to associate pregnancy with disability, however, has resulted in a legal regime in which many pregnant workers currently have less legal standing to workplace accommodations than other persons with comparable physical limitations," Prof. Cox said in a paper she presented this week at the American Association of Law Schools annual meeting.

If pregnancy was included under the A.D.A., employers would be obligated to put women on light duty if necessary, allow them to drink water on the job, take more bathroom breaks and offer other such small accommodations.

If you're wondering what sort of insensitive employer wouldn't let a pregnant woman drink water on the job or take bathroom breaks, they're out there.

Prof. Cox found examples of women who lost their jobs because employers failed to offer special treatment, including a retail worker who drank water while working and thus violated store policy, and a police officer whose department would not allow her to perform lighter duties.

Do you think pregnancy should be considered a disability that employers must accommodate?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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