The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Passes in the House
The bill that protects pregnant workers and their unborn children now heads to the Senate.
- By Shereen Hashem
- May 21, 2021
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, requiring reasonable accommodations for employees limited by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The vote was 315-101. The PWFA was introduced by Jerry Nadler in 2012. It’s a bipartisan proposal to guarantee basic workplace protections for pregnant employees, this includes bathroom breaks and stools for workers to sit on.
"Over the nearly nine years since I first introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, I have met with countless pregnant workers and listened to their heartrending stories of having to make the impossible decision between staying at work or protecting the health of their pregnancy. That's a choice no one should ever be forced to make and it's why I have fought tirelessly to advance the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act," said Representative Nadler.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was past. However, many workers still face discrimination, which includes being denied reasonable accommodations, being fired or not hired in the first place. A survey shows 62 percent of workers witnessed pregnancy discrimination on the job. According to an article, the bill requires private-sector employers with 15 or more workers to make “reasonable accommodations” for their pregnant employees. The bill also protects workers from retaliation after making requests and from being forced into taking unpaid leave.
"It is so vitally important that mothers receive quality healthcare during their pregnancy, without the risk of discrimination," Rep. Lucy McBath said. "I am proud to support this legislation that will help protect pregnant women and their families, because no mother should ever have to choose between the health of themselves and their child, or their paycheck."
The PWFA has support from more than 250 advocate and business groups.
Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.