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Legislation introduced in House to expand protections for pregnant workers

Legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives May 8 that would expand protections for pregnant workers. Sponsored by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-Calif) and Susan Davis (D-Calif), the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 5647) has 63 co-sponsors. The text of the legislation is not yet available.

The measure would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and would bar employers from forcing pregnant workers to take leave if reasonable accommodations would allow them to continue working. In addition, the measure would bar employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

According to the sponsors, pregnant working women are frequently denied simple adjustments that would keep them working and supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. A statement announcing the legislation cited various examples, including one woman who was terminated because she needed assistance to perform physically strenuous tasks in order to prevent another miscarriage.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and prevent employers from forcing women out on leave when another reasonable accommodation would allow them to continue working. The bill also bars employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. One of the sponsors, Representative Speier, said that “[w]omen are not disposable workers who can be cast off if, and when, they are pregnant. They deserve the same treatment as any other employee who is in need of a temporary accommodation.”

The bill is supported by many groups, including the National Women’s Law Center and the AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said that the legislation would do much to support “working moms and their new families and the AFL-CIO is proud to stand behind it.”

Other groups supporting the bill include AFSCME, the Association Employees Union, the Communications Workers, the Labor Project for Working Families, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Education Association, the National Employment Law Project, Pride at Work, the Restaurant Opportunities Center and its Miami affiliate, the United Food and Commercial Workers and its Local 5, and Young Workers United.

Source: CCH Editorial Staff