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Congressman Nadler Celebrates Bipartisan House Passage of Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, the House of Representatives passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act by a bipartisan vote of 315 to 101. The bill, which 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) in February, would guarantee workplace protections for pregnant workers and deliver meaningful relief to pregnant workers to whom protections are not provided. 

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act creates an affirmative right to accommodation and utilizes the framework of the Americans with Disabilities Act to require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers so long as the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship upon the employer. 

"Over the nearly nine years since I first introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, I have met with countless pregnant workers and listened to their heartrending stories of having to make the impossible decision between staying at work or protecting the health of their pregnancy. That's a choice no one should ever be forced to make and it's why I have fought tirelessly to advance the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act," said Rep. Nadler. "Passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act isn't just common sense—it's a question of fairness and decency. Guaranteeing pregnant workers the most reasonable of accommodations will erode pernicious discrimination against pregnant women, strengthen our economy, and keep women and children healthy and safe. I'm delighted that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed the House with bipartisan support today and I'll keep working until it is signed into law."

“Like so many women in America, my story includes a struggle to get pregnant,” said Rep. McBath. “Far too many expecting mothers are not provided necessary accommodations in the workplace to keep themselves healthy during pregnancy, and I am particularly proud that this bill helps protect pregnant women and their families from discrimination. No woman should ever have to choose between maintaining a healthy pregnancy and their paycheck.”

“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.”

“I’m glad to work with Reps. Nadler, McBath, Herrera Beutler, and Scott to advance this important piece of bipartisan legislation to ensure no mother or mother-to-be in this nation has to choose between being a parent and keeping their job,” said Rep. Katko. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act takes steps to protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination by implementing a uniform, fair, and familiar framework for employers. In effect, this bill enables pregnant workers to provide for their families while remaining healthy and safe in the workplace.”

The PWFA has received wide-ranging support both within Congress and outside of it, with over two hundred worker advocates, civil rights groups, and business groups—including the Chamber of Commerce—urging its passage.

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 to 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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