Many commentators and judges consider cases involving fetal protection policies the most important sex discrimination cases since Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. With as many as twenty million workers potentially exposed to chemicals in the workplace that may cause reproductive health problems, employers have implemented fetal protection policies. The employers' motivation for enacting these policies is dual in nature: (1) to protect the health of future generations and (2) to protect themselves from potential tort liability. Regardless of the benevolence of employers' motives, the issue is whether individual employers should be allowed to close hazardous jobs to women because of the risk of fetal harm.

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