Experts say doctors’ notes for employers of pregnant women can backfire


According to The New York Times, a new commentary published in Obstetrics and Gynecology warns women that unspecific or poorly-timed doctor’s notes could bring unexpected, harsh responses from their employers. Lead author Dr. Rebecca Jackson, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at San Francisco General Hospital wrote, “We can do harm if we are not careful when writing these notes for patients.” Notably, female employees were fired in nearly 70 percent of cases investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to Dr. Jackson, doctors’ notes play an important role in these employment conflicts. Problems with doctors’ notes include vagueness which can cause employers to assume women can’t perform their jobs and suggest unpaid leave mid-pregnancy, while other notes are pre-emptive or come with requests that are impossible to grant — like asking employers to limit exposure to people with sickness. The commentary asks doctors to specify in future notes not only what pregnant female workers can no longer do, but also what they still can do, asking that doctors take the time to learn the patient’s essential job duties.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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