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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: What People Are Saying

09.17.20

WASHINGTON — Today, the House will vote to secure critical rights for pregnant workers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694) would clearly establish a pregnant worker’s right to a “reasonable accommodation” so that no worker is forced to choose between financial security and a healthy pregnancy. Here’s what some the leading organizations are saying about the bill:

A Better Balance: No one should have to choose between keeping their job and a healthy pregnancy—not during a pandemic, not ever. In the past few months alone, A Better Balance has heard from hundreds of pregnant women across the country, disproportionately women of color, many in essential jobs, who continue to face termination or are forced out for needing a temporary workplace accommodation. This is simply unacceptable. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a long overdue maternal health and economic security measure that would finally put an end to the second-class treatment of pregnant workers under the law. We hope all members of Congress will take this opportunity to support pregnant workers and pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” said Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): No one should have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck but it’s still happening. Although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act played a critical role in securing women’s place in the workforce, too many women continue to be marginalized at work because they decide to become pregnant. This is especially true for women in physically demanding or male-dominated jobs, low-wage workers, and women of color who request temporary accommodations to address a medical need and instead are terminated or placed on unpaid leave, causing devastating economic harm. That is why passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a dire necessity for women and families across the country. Employers also will benefit by gaining clarity on their obligations under the law. We thank House leadership, the Committee on Education and Labor, and the Committee on the Judiciary for combating pregnancy discrimination and prioritizing the economic security of workers and their families,” said Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union.

American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE): “…Some workers who are pregnant require temporary job-related accommodations to maintain a healthy pregnancy. The “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” would ensure that pregnant workers would not be forced to take unpaid leave or be terminated for needing accommodations at work. Pregnant workers deserve a clear, objective process to obtain necessary accommodations in a timely manner and H.R. 2694 will achieve this goal.”

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities: “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is particularly important to people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities who did not require accommodations before becoming pregnant experience new complications due to how pregnancy impacts their disabilities and need accommodations once they become pregnant. These workers are sometimes told that they are not entitled to accommodations because the employer views the need for accommodation as related to pregnancy rather than to the worker’s underlying disability.”

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: “While pregnancy discrimination affects women across race, ethnicity and economic status, women of color and low-wage workers are disproportionately impacted. Women of color are more likely to hold certain inflexible and physically demanding jobs that can present specific challenges for pregnant workers, making reasonable accommodations on the job even more important… The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will provide a clear, predictable rule: employers must provide reasonable accommodations for limitations arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless this would pose an undue hardship. No woman should have to choose between providing for her family and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that all women working for covered employers would be protected.”

March of Dimes: “…Three-quarters of women will be pregnant and employed at some point in their lives. Most pregnant workers can expect a normal pregnancy and healthy birth. However, healthcare providers have consistently recommended that some pregnant women make adjustments in their work activities to sustain a healthy pregnancy and prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth or miscarriage. Workplace accommodations are medically necessary and can include allowing additional bathroom breaks, opportunities to stay hydrated, lifting restrictions, or access to a chair or stool to decrease time spent standing… The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a measured approach to a serious problem. March of Dimes understands the importance of reasonable workplace accommodations to ensure that women can continue to provide for their families and have safe and healthy pregnancies. We urge swift passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.”

National Partnership for Women and Families: “Pregnancy discrimination has been illegal since the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and yet thousands of pregnant workers each year are still denied the reasonable accommodations they need to have healthy pregnancies. Pregnancy discrimination hurts pregnant people across race and ethnicity, but people of color and immigrants, who are more likely to hold certain inflexible and physically demanding jobs, are at particular risk. Pregnant people should not be forced to risk their health or their pregnancy to maintain financial stability. It’s time to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to make pregnancy discrimination a thing of the past, and to promote healthy pregnancies for all workers and protect the economic security of America’s families,” said Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families.

National WIC Association: “WIC providers know that low-income pregnant workers struggle to balance the health of their pregnancy with workplace demands. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a common-sense solution building on existing legal frameworks to ensure that no woman will have to choose between the health of her baby and her livelihood. We urge swift passage of this critical legislation and look forward to working with both chambers of Congress to turn this bill into law,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association.

National Women’s Law Center: “Millions of pregnant workers across America are counting on the House to move us closer to a day when pregnant workers are no longer pushed out of work when they can least afford it. In 2020, no one should be forced to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. House members must pass this commonsense and bipartisan bill,” said Emily Martin, NWLC Vice President for Education &Workplace Justice.

H.R. Policy Association, International Franchise Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Society for Human Resource Management, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), as passed by the House Education and Labor Committee, is a balanced approach that clarifies an employer’s obligation to accommodate the known limitations of employees and job applicants that accompany pregnancy.  The PWFA uses an interactive, reasonable accommodation process similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act and specifies a pregnant employee may take leave only after the employer and employee have exhausted the possibility of other reasonable accommodations. This bipartisan bill is a strong reminder that through good faith negotiations, legislative solutions to important workplace questions and problems can be found.  We believe that Congress should pass the PWFA with no changes.”

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