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The American Public Gets It. President Obama Gets It. Why Doesn't Congress?

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June 25, 2014

Like millions of Americans, President Obama doesn’t think it makes a lot of sense to fire an employee or force her to take unpaid leave because she’s six months pregnant and needs a stool to sit on while working the cash register.

This is a situation many pregnant workers still face, even in 2014. That’s why President Obama stood up on Monday and called on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (Pa.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.).

This bill requires employers to provide a temporary and reasonable job modification to a pregnant woman, as long as it doesn’t put a heavy burden on the employer. We’re talking about giving pregnant women the same options that employers already provide workers injured on the job or workers temporarily disabled. There’s nothing radical about treating moms-to-be fairly by giving them a chance to do their jobs and stay employed, and yet Congress continues to do nothing.

President Obama’s support came during the White House Summit on Working Families where participants discussed the enormous changes that have taken place in the American labor force. Women today work outside the home in significantly greater numbers and most do so in order to pay the rent and feed their children.

A woman’s income is often integral to her family’s well-being and even its survival. Workplace policies that unnecessarily and callously undermine a family’s economic security threaten our nation’s prosperity.

Equally important, the Summit highlighted the business case for policies like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Small, medium and large business owners made the case, over and over, that treating employees fairly and respecting their family commitments, reaped rewards that affected the bottom line. Without exception, these successful business leaders made clear that family friendly policies led to more productive and loyal employees.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is good for business, for our economy, for women, and for families. Several members of Congress know this and have co-sponsored the bill. It’s time for the rest of Congress to step up.

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