Rep. Joe Cunningham on Thursday voted to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation that establishes a pregnant worker’s clear-cut right to reasonable workplace accommodations, provided they do not impose an undue burden on their employer.
“Often times, pregnant workers are forced to choose between ignoring their doctor’s advice or losing their jobs,” Rep. Cunningham said. “At a time when we are facing a public health and economic crisis, no woman should have to choose between her and her baby’s health or her family’s economic security. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act solves this dilemma by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers who need them, without imposing undue hardship on the employer. I am proud the House passed this long overdue legislation and I urge the Senate to act as swiftly as possible and give families the safety and stability they deserve.”
While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, there is currently no federal law that explicitly and affirmatively guarantees the right of pregnant workers to reasonable accommodation so they can continue to work without jeopardizing their pregnancy.
Among other provisions, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would:
- Require public sector employers and private employers with more than 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for job applicants and workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions – so no worker would have to choose between financial security and a healthy pregnancy.
- Include simple changes such as appropriate seating, water breaks, closer parking, flexible hours, appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel, bathroom breaks, and excusing pregnant workers from strenuous activities.
- Ensure pregnant workers could not be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting reasonable accommodation, or be forced to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.