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Bipartisan Group Reintroduce Bill to Strengthen Protections for Pregnant Workers

Washington, D.C. — Today, a bipartisan group of representatives announced the reintroduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – which establishes a pregnant worker’s clear-cut right to reasonable workplace accommodations, provided they do not impose an undue burden on their employer. 

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was reintroduced by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), John Katko (R-NY), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA), and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA).

“I first introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) nine years ago after hearing story after story of workers facing impossible choices between a healthy pregnancy and a steady paycheck. The need for the PWFA has only grown, especially as pregnant workers have faced new risks and additional discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Nadler. “There’s a reason the PWFA passed last Congress with such overwhelming bipartisan support—not only does it keep workers and children healthier and safer, it makes our economy stronger and American businesses more productive. That’s why the bill has support from over 200 businesses, health, civil rights, and labor organizations. I’m proud to reintroduce this crucial piece of legislation and I look forward to making it law. Pregnant workers deserve to know that they will be protected.”

“Current federal law does not clearly guarantee pregnant workers’ right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace – such as water, seating, bathroom breaks, and lifting restrictions.  These basic protections are critical to protecting pregnant workers from the tragic consequences of unsafe working conditions, and they are particularly important today, as early evidence suggests that pregnancy leads to an elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” said Chairman Scott, Committee on Education and Labor. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a bipartisan proposal that would finally establish clear, nationwide protections that guarantee pregnant workers the basic right to reasonable accommodations. This legislation has broad support across the political spectrum and across our communities – and is long overdue.” 

"Simply put, no mother or mother-to-be in this country should have to choose between being a parent and keeping their job. Unfortunately, current federal law lacks adequate protections to ensure pregnant workers are able to remain healthy in the workplace,” said Rep. John Katko. “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."

“Like many women in America, my story includes a struggle to get pregnant. When we finally succeeded, it was truly a miracle for me and my family. After suffering some complications with my pregnancy, my doctor insisted I stay home from work to protect the health of me and my baby,” said Rep. Lucy McBath. “It is so vitally important that mothers receive quality healthcare during their pregnancy, without the risk of discrimination. I am proud to support this legislation that will help protect pregnant women and their families, because no mother should ever have to choose between the health of themselves and their child, or their paycheck.”

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has broad support from more than 200 worker advocates, civil rights groups, and the business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a recent survey of voters across the country, 89 percent said they support the proposal, including 81 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Independents, and 96 percent of Democrats.

Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act:

  • Private sector employers with more than 15 employees as well as public sector employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions). Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.
  • Pregnant workers cannot be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.
  • Workers denied a reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Public sector employees have similar relief available under the Congressional Accountability Act, Title V of the United States Code, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991.

To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act bill textclick here.

To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act fact sheetclick here.

To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act section by sectionclick here.

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