Congress Introduces Bill to Protect Pregnant Women in the Workplace

June 4, 2015 12:00 pm

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WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers today introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill that would require employers to make reasonable job modifications that allow women to continue working during pregnancy.

The legislation — introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jeanne Shaheen, (D-N.H.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) — is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for limitations arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless this would pose an undue hardship on the employer.

“No worker should live in fear that her job is at risk simply because she is pregnant,” Sen. Casey said. “This is commonsense legislation that will finally provide pregnant workers the workplace protections they deserve.”

In March 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Peggy Young in a pregnancy discrimination case, Young v. UPS, holding that employers may not burden pregnant workers while accommodating most other groups of workers, including workers with disabilities and those temporarily unable to perform their normal duties.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would strengthen and affirm the court’s decision by providing employers and pregnant workers with a clear, predictable rule and will prevent employers from placing pregnant workers on unpaid leave, firing them, or forcing them to quit when they seek a temporary and reasonable accommodation.

“Congress should recognize that the law must keep pace with the times. In 2015, women are the primary breadwinners in many U.S. households and families rely on that income to survive,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, acting director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would further enshrine the principle that no woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy in this day and age. Congress should move swiftly to adopt this measured, bipartisan approach to an important national issue.”

States and cities across the country have acted on a bipartisan basis to pass laws protecting pregnant workers.

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