Nadler, Katko, McBath, Herrera Beutler, Scott Reintroduce Bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to Protect Pregnant Workers From Workplace Discrimination

May 14, 2019
Press Release
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), would address legal ambiguities and help ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job.

As originally released by the Committee on Education and Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), John Katko (R-NY), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA) reintroduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, legislation that would protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would address legal ambiguities and help ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job. The legislation, which is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), would require employers to make reasonable accommodations—such as a minor job modification—that would allow pregnant workers to continue working and prevent them from being forced out on leave or out of their jobs. The bill also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

"As we celebrated Mother’s Day last weekend, it is imperative that we give all moms and moms-to-be the certainty that they can stay on the job no matter what," said Congressman Nadler (NY-10). "No woman should have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck, especially when often a simple fix – a bottle of water during a shift, an extra bathroom break, a chair – will allow women to stay on the job and support their families throughout their pregnancy. The PWFA creates an affirmative duty for employers to provide pregnant workers a reasonable accommodation, unless the accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the employer. We know exactly what this language means, employers know just what to expect, and, most importantly, pregnant workers know they will be protected."

"Under current law, women are not guaranteed reasonable accommodations to remain healthy and in the workforce during pregnancy," said Congressman John Katko (NY-24). "This bipartisan effort puts in place a uniform, fair and familiar framework for employers and will enable women to keep working safely and provide for their families throughout pregnancy."

"No woman should be forced out of a job or denied employment opportunities simply because she is pregnant. As a working mom, I learned just how important it is to be protected from workplace discrimination, and to be given the ability to prioritize my health and the health of my child," said Congresswoman Lucy McBath (GA-06). "My pregnancy with Jordan was high risk – I had to make difficult decisions to ensure my own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of my child. I am proud to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – a bipartisan bill to protect pregnant workers and to ensure that employers provide necessary and reasonable accommodations to keep moms-to-be safe at work."

"Women make up almost half the workforce, yet continue to face unjust and unnecessary obstacles in the workplace, whether it is lack of paid family or sick leave, paycheck disparities, or pregnancy discrimination.  The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would remove one of those hurdles by ensuring that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job. This legislation would require employers to make reasonable accommodations – such as minor job modifications – that would allow pregnant workers to continue working and prevent them from being forced to take leave or forced out of their job," said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and Labor.

Sixty-two percent of pregnant women and new moms are in the labor force, yet under current law, pregnant workers can be placed on unpaid leave or forced out when they need a simple accommodation to stay on the job. Currently 25 states – most recently Kentucky and South Carolina – and five cities have adopted pregnancy accommodation laws with bipartisan support. But federal laws are leaving many women behind. A recent report by A Better Balance found that over in two-thirds of cases, courts allowed employers to deny pregnant workers a necessary accommodation. Passing PWFA would eliminate this confusion and ensure women can keep their jobs throughout their pregnancy. 

The legislation is supported by: 1,000 Days, A Better Balance, American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Equal Rights Advocates, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Legal Aid at Work, Legal Momentum, March of Dimes, MomsRising, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Law Center, Oxfam, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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