WASHINGTON — As millions of American women remain in the essential workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are introducing the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination. This legislation, which is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to allow pregnant workers to continue working safely. It will ensure that employers with 15 or more employees provide reasonable accommodations that are often low-cost or no cost, unless it would pose an undue hardship to the employer. The bill includes protections not already codified in the ADA or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
“We need to care for and enable all Americans. This is a double purpose for those pregnant. They contribute to our today and carry our future,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This legislation is therefore, a commitment to our present and our tomorrow as it cares for women who are pregnant and still working.”
“No one deserves to be shut out of a job due to their pregnancy. Worker health and safety is non-negotiable and we need to make it a priority for everyone,” said Senator Casey. “At a time when women have been forced out of the workforce in unprecedented numbers as a result of the pandemic, this legislation is more important than ever to ensure that we are removing barriers to women’s full and complete participation in the workforce. I urge my colleagues to move this legislation forward so that we can prevent discrimination against the many women in the workforce who are entering motherhood, and ensure that anyone who wants to work can do so safely.”
“Women shouldn’t be at a professional disadvantage or health risk if they become pregnant at some point during their careers,” said Senator Capito. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would provide simple, but important accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace that mitigate health risks while keeping their careers on track. West Virginia has been ahead of the game when it comes to this issue, and I’m proud to help introduce this legislation at the federal level to make these commonsense changes for women across the rest of the country.”
“Securing equality in the workplace and empowering working families demands meaningful policy change to meet the standards American workers deserve. That’s why I’m glad to join Senator Casey on this legislation to support expectant mothers and their families,” said Senator Shaheen. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a critical step forward to end pregnancy discrimination and provide protections for expectant mothers in accessing accommodations at work without fear of retaliation, bias or being unfairly forced out of their jobs. I appreciate the bipartisan determination to move this bill forward and will continue to push lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”
“I have heard from many Alaskans about the need to provide for the health of pregnant women. The astonishing truth is that many women are still denied the basic, commonsense accommodations they need at work to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. This is not acceptable. No employee should have to choose between keeping a job and their health or the health of their baby—it’s as simple as that. This bill will improve federal law by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for expecting and new mothers and ensure that women are not discriminated against simply because of pregnancy or childbirth,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud to promote policies that empower women and support women’s health and the health of their babies.”
“Pregnant workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace, and this bill would help ensure they can access reasonable accommodations,” said Senator Smith. “It is a critical step towards truly ending pregnancy discrimination in our workplaces, which threatens women’s economic opportunity and freedom. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is one of the many steps Congress should take to support working families.”
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would allow pregnant workers to continue working by ensuring they can have accommodations such as additional bathroom breaks, light duty or a stool to sit on if a worker stands all day. It would prevent them from being forced out on leave or out of their jobs. The bill also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations due to childbirth or related medical conditions.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is supported by A Better Balance; American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); American Association of University Women (AAUW); American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs; California Women’s Law Center; Equal Rights Advocates; Hadassah; H.R. Policy Association; International Franchise Association; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center; Legal Momentum; Main Street Alliance; March of Dimes; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); National Retail Federation; National Organization for Women; National Partnership for Women & Families; National WIC Association; National Women’s Law Center; Physicians for Reproductive Health; Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Retail Industry Leaders Association; Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); UnidosUS; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce; and Zero to Three.