WASHINGTON DC – Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-5) voted today, May 14, to pass the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to establish pregnant workers’ right to reasonable workplace accommodations.
Introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed by a vote of 315-101.
“No parent should ever be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy or a paycheck,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “Right now, women are at a 33 year low in workforce participation because our economic infrastructure too often fails to meet the needs of working women. With this bill, workers would not be denied employment opportunities, reasonable accommodations, or be forced to leave their jobs without pay just because they are pregnant. This legislation is critical to ensure that employers are held accountable and that women have the same opportunities for success.”
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has broad support from more than 200 worker advocates, civil rights groups, and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In a recent survey of voters across the country, 89 percent said they support the proposal, including 81 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Independents, and 96 percent of Democrats.
Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Private sector employers with more than 15 employees as well as public sector employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions).
Like the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.
Pregnant workers cannot be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.
Workers denied a reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
These include lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Public sector employees have similar relief available under the Congressional Accountability Act, Title V of the United States Code, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991.
To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act bill text, click here.
To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act fact sheet, click here.