(Clarifies requirements for workers to notify employers about pregnancy-related limitations in seventh paragraph.)
Pregnant workers would get new accommodations and protections from retaliation in legislation announced Tuesday by a bipartisan group led by House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed the House last year by a vote of 329-73. The measure wasn’t considered in the Senate but Democrats in the chamber have previously introduced similar legislation.
Democrats have argued the bill is critical because pregnant workers are at higher risk from Covid-19. Unlike other labor priorities like a minimum wage hike, the pregnant workers measure (H.R. 1065) has received strong support from business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s a reason the PWFA passed last Congress with such overwhelming bipartisan support — not only does it keep workers and children healthier and safer, it makes our economy stronger and American businesses more productive,” Nadler said in a statement.
Workers advocates have also said the bill will remedy injustices faced by low-wage workers and workers of color. More than 200 advocacy groups, civil rights organizations, and business groups endorsed the legislation.
“Day in and day out at, we continue to hear from women who are forced out of work or forced to risk their health because they cannot receive modest changes at work to keep them healthy and earning a paycheck,” said Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, which promotes gender equality in the workplace.
The legislation would add protections for workers who notify employers about specific limitations involving pregnancies, childbirths, and related conditions for purposes of requesting an accommodation. Public sector employers and private employers with 15 or more workers would be required to negotiate accommodations in a process mirroring the Americans With Disabilities Act. Employers would not be required to adopt accommodations that impose an “undue hardship” on their business, similar to the ADA.
The bill was crafted to address legal confusion created by a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on when workers are entitled to accommodations for pregnancies. That decision — Young v. United Parcel Service — left questions unresolved on what workers need to do to prove bias on behalf of employers.
To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Kreighbaum in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org