01.14.20

Committee Advances Bipartisan Proposal to Secure Clear, Strong Protections for Pregnant Workers

WASHINGTON – Today, the Committee on Education and Labor advanced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694)a bipartisan proposal to secure clear and strong protections for pregnant workers. The legislation guarantees pregnant workers’ right to reasonable accommodations – such as extra bathroom breaks, relief from heavy lifting, and other minor job modifications that ensure they can continue working without jeopardizing their health or the health of their pregnancy.

The bill is being led by three Democrats – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee Chair Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), and Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06) – and two Republicans – Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA-03) and Rep. John Katko (NY-24).

H.R. 2694, as approved by the Committee, is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, A Better Balance, American Civil Liberties Union, National Partnership for Women & Families, and the National Women’s Law Center. It advanced (29-17) through Committee with two Republicans voting in support. 

Research demonstrates that pregnant workers need access to reasonable workplace accommodations to protect their health and the health of their babies.  These simple accommodations—which can include water, seating, and relief from heavy lifting—do not need to be, nor are they typically, complex or costly,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. “As workers continue to suffer pregnancy discrimination at an alarming rate, we must ensure that all pregnant workers, no matter where they live, can access the protections they need to stay healthy on the job.”

In 2015, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Young v. UPS allowed pregnant workers to bring reasonable accommodation discrimination claims under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). But pregnant workers are still being denied accommodations because the Young decision set an unreasonably high standard for proving discrimination.

As a result, in two-thirds of cases after Young, courts ruled against pregnant workers who were seeking accommodations under the PDA.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. 

“I thank Chairman Scott and the entire Education and Labor Committee for passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This bill is long overdue. I introduced the PWFA because our current laws are forcing pregnant workers to make impossible choices between staying in an unsafe job or being forced out on leave or fired. It doesn't have to be that complicated, and by moving the legislation forward today, we can finally ensure that no one has to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10).

To read the fact sheet on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act click here.

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