August 3, 2021

Senate Committee Advances Cassidy, Casey Legislation to Protect Pregnant Workers Against Workplace Discrimination

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH), landmark legislation to protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination. The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, 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). 

“The Senate is one step closer to ensuring expectant mothers have the workplace accommodations they need,” said Dr. Cassidy. 

“For more than 9 years, my colleagues and I have been working to make these protections a reality for the workers who need them. This markup brings the bill one step closer to becoming law. Worker health and safety is non-negotiable and we need to make it a priority for everyone,” said Senator Casey.  

“No expectant mother should ever face barriers that prevent her from fully participating in the workplace and providing for herself and her family,” said Senator Shaheen.“I’m very pleased this bipartisan bill, which would help prevent pregnancy discrimination and ensure expectant mothers can access reasonable workplace accommodations, cleared a key committee hurdle today. I’ve championed this bill for years, and I urge lawmakers across the aisle to support this important legislation to protect pregnant women.”

Introduced in April, 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.

This legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

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.