House of Representatives Introduces Legislation to End Discriminatory Treatment of Pregnant Workers

May 14, 2019 10:45 am

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WASHINGTON — Members of the House of Representatives introduced the bipartisan Pregnant Worker Fairness Act today, which would outlaw common forms of discrimination faced by pregnant workers.

Forty years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibited discrimination against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, pregnant workers still face significant barriers to equality. This legislation would require employers to make reasonable accommodations — such as providing a stool to sit on, a schedule change, or a break from lifting heavy boxes — if doing so would not cause an undue burden on the business. It would also disallow employers from forcing pregnant workers into a leave of absence instead of providing an accommodation, and denying job opportunities to an applicant who is pregnant and needs an accommodation.

Vania Leveille, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following response:

“No one should have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck. But today, despite the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act decades ago, pregnant workers are routinely denied the temporary job modifications they need to keep working and maintain a healthy pregnancy. The ACLU has stepped in to defend the rights of pregnant workers forced off the job, but it is long past time for Congress to end this discriminatory treatment by passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

“Our elected officials must make it crystal clear that employers must extend to pregnant workers the same modifications and flexibility they already provide other employees. Families across the country deserve nothing less.”

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