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Congressman Nadler Delivers Floor Statement In Support of H.R. 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Washington, D.C. —Today, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would guarantee workplace protections to pregnant workers and provide relief to pregnant workers to whom said protections are not provided:

"Pregnancy is not a disability, but sometimes pregnant workers need an easy fix such as a stool or an extra bathroom break to stay on the job. These accommodations are short in duration and typically cost very little to provide, but they can mean the difference between keeping your job or putting your pregnancy at risk.

"But for as long as women have been in the workforce, instead of being accommodated, they have been fired or forced out on leave when they become pregnant. Those policies have become even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have seen a wave of employers firing pregnant workers rather than finding ways for them to safely return to work. These policies, as they too often do, are falling disproportionately on women of color and low-wage, hourly workers who suddenly find themselves without a paycheck, without health insurance, and pregnant in the middle of a global pandemic.

"The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will fix how pregnancy accommodation is treated under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Courts have said that employers must provide an accommodation to a pregnant employee if they accommodate non-pregnant employees similar in their ability or inability to work. That means pregnant worker must have perfect knowledge of the medical and employment histories of every other employee in their workplace, which is nearly impossible. In fact, a recent study by A Better Balance found that in over two-thirds of cases, courts denied an accommodation because pregnant workers could not meet this test, and I am submitting for the record a letter in support of this bill from A Better Balance.

"That’s why the PWFA moves away from proving discrimination and creates an affirmative right to accommodation. Using the framework and language of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the bill requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers as long as the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.

"Courts know exactly how to interpret that language. Employers know exactly what their responsibilities will be. But most importantly, women will have the certainty they can safely stay on the job. That is why over 200 organizations have endorsed the legislation and why 30 states have passed pregnancy accommodation laws similar to the PWFA.

"Providing reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers helps businesses, workers, and families. Passing this bill is long overdue – and I thank Chairman Scott, Chair Bonamici, Eunice Ikene and the Committee staff for shepherding the bill to the floor today. 

"Thank you, and I yield back my time and urge a yes vote."

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