Nadler, Frankel, Williams, and Chu Lead Letter to the EEOC on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Rulemaking
The PWFA was signed into law in December 2022 after 10 years of advocacy by Representative Nadler, the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and stakeholders including A Better Balance, the ACLU, the NWLC, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and over 240 other organizations.
Last week, Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Lois Frankel, Nikema Williams, and Judy Chu led 82 House Democrats in a letter to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Charlotte A. Burrows to provide congressional intent of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) for the Commission’s consideration during the rulemaking process. The PWFA was signed into law in December 2022 after 10 years of advocacy by Representative Nadler, the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and stakeholders including A Better Balance, the ACLU, the NWLC, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and over 240 other organizations.
The Members’ letter supports the EEOC’s clear interpretation of the term “Pregnancy, Childbirth, or Related Medical Condition” as applying to the termination of pregnancy, including abortions, along with many other conditions related to lactation, fertility, and miscarriage.
The Member’s letter also provides comment on questions related to:
The Members also made clear they support solid and robust regulations for the PWFA, which will ensure employees can protect their pregnancy and reproductive health without compromising their family’s economic security.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said: "The passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act last year was an overdue and hard-won victory for women and families, and I want to thank a Better Balance, the ACLU, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and the 240 other organizations who advocated to pass this important legislation since I originally introduced it over a decade ago. I’m proud that PWFA has already provided critical support to pregnant and postpartum workers since it went into effect in June of this year. I’m also grateful to the EEOC for issuing a proposed rule with sound legal reasoning and providing the opportunity for my colleagues and I to share the legislative intent behind the law. It is essential for the EEOC to issue a final rule that ensures the law’s protections are fully available to pregnant workers who need them and is consistent with the legislative intent of PWFA."
Congresswoman Lois Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women's Caucus said: “The Democratic Women’s Caucus fought long and hard to pass the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act to help ensure that no worker has to choose between a healthy pregnancy and staying on the job. As the EEOC works to implement this groundbreaking law, the Democratic Women’s Caucus is proud to stand with our colleagues in the House to support the Biden Administration’s work and ensure this law delivers reasonable accommodations for the women who need them.”
Congresswoman Nikema Williams, Vice-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus said: “When Congress passed the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act, we did so through a lens of equity knowing workers from traditionally marginalized communities were looking to us for economic justice. Congress must now ensure the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act is meaningfully enforced to guarantee the workplace accommodations women are due. I’m leading this letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission so women across the country can feel secure providing for their family without sacrificing the health of their pregnancy.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu said: “Since its enactment in June this year, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has already delivered, becoming a critical lifeline for thousands of pregnant workers across the country, said Rep. Chu. “With this law, we can finally provide pregnant workers with the peace of mind that they can stay on the job, provide for their families, and get the accommodations they need to maintain the health of their pregnancy. As the EEOC continues implementing the law, my colleagues and I are urging the agency to meet the full promise of the legislation and reasonably expand accommodations.”
Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance said: “A Better Balance is deeply grateful to Representative Jerrold Nadler for tirelessly leading the way toward passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, working side-by-side with our organization since 2012, to secure long overdue dignity, fairness, and equality for workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions. We thank Rep. Nadler and the Democratic Women’s Caucus for leading on a letter to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in support of strong regulations for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—signed by over 80 of their House colleagues— reinforcing the Congressional intent of the law and ensuring this groundbreaking law is meaningfully enforced. Strong regulations for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will make a world of difference for the health and economic security of women and families across the country.”
Julie Sweet, Director, Policy and Government Affairs, Liberty Division, American Civil Liberties Union said: “For millions of U.S. workers, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act promises to remedy the legal loopholes of the past and ensure no worker who needs a reasonable accommodation for limitations caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions will have to choose between their paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. We are deeply grateful to Representative Jerry Nadler for his unwavering commitment and leadership that led to adoption of this law. We thank Rep. Nadler, the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and their House colleagues for authoring a strong letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in support of robust regulations that recognize the full scope of workers’ health needs throughout their reproductive lives.”
Emily Martin, Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice at the NWLC said: “Thanks to Congressional champions like Representative Jerry Nadler, workers who need accommodations because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions will no longer be pushed off the job or forced to compromise their health or the health of their pregnancies for a paycheck. We applaud the Congressman and the EEOC for working to ensure that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act works for all workers—especially for those in low-paid jobs. While some anti-abortion activists and lawmakers attempted to use this groundbreaking new law to harm pregnant workers and roll back longstanding antidiscrimination protections, it’s clear that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is intended to meet the full range of health needs related to pregnancy, which includes lactation, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, and more. Pregnant workers need and deserve no less.”
Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families said: “For far too long, pregnant workers were denied critical protections needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy: protections like the ability to take bathroom breaks during a shift, sit down while working a cash register, or pause to take a drink of water to stay hydrated. Since the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect this June, workers now have new legal tools to ensure that they can access these kinds of small accommodations to keep themselves and their pregnancies healthy without the risk of job loss or retaliation. We commend the EEOC for proposing comprehensive rules that adhere to the text and intent of the law, as well as decades of precedent under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, to explain the scope of the law for employers and employees. We fully support congressional leaders in urging the EEOC to finalize these rules promptly and help ensure that pregnant workers receive much-needed accommodations as they navigate pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.”