We need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The bill has bipartisan support and is all about protecting pregnant workers and their unborn children.

We need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
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Nine years after it was first introduced, Congress is once again considering the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The PWFA was first introduced in 2012 by Representative Jerry Nadler. It's a bipartisan proposal to guarantee basic workplace protections for pregnant employees, like bathroom breaks and stools for workers to sit.

While Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 over 40 years ago, many workers still face discrimination, which can include being denied reasonable accommodations, being fired, or not being hired in the first place.

A recent survey found that 62% of workers have witnessed pregnancy discrimination on the job. The PWFA seeks to change that.

The bill would require private-sector employers with 15 or more workers to make "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees. Those accommodations could come in the form of water and bathroom breaks, stools, or a reduction in lifting requirements.

The bill would also protect workers from retaliation after making those requests and from being forced into taking unpaid leave. Lawmakers say this bill and its protections are long overdue.

"I first introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) nine years ago after hearing story after story of workers facing impossible choices between a healthy pregnancy and a steady paycheck. The need for the PWFA has only grown, especially as pregnant workers have faced new risks and additional discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Congressman Nadler in a statement.

"Pregnant workers deserve to know that they will be protected," he said.

"Like many women in America, my story includes a struggle to get pregnant," said Rep. Lucy McBath, one of the bill's cosponsors. "When we finally succeeded, it was truly a miracle for me and my family. After suffering some complications with my pregnancy, my doctor insisted I stay home from work to protect the health of me and my baby."

"It is so vitally important that mothers receive quality healthcare during their pregnancy, without the risk of discrimination," Rep. McBath continued. "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 broad support from more than 250 advocate and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

We know that support for mothers is non-partisan. In our 2021 State of Motherhood survey, 85% of mothers said they would support or vote for a political candidate who supported legislation that did more to actively support mothers, regardless of that candidate's party affiliation. Mothers are a powerful voting bloc: they want what's best for their families and they're willing to use their voting ballots to get it.

At Motherly, we support legislation that supports mothers. This legislation would offer valuable protections when pregnant workers need it most.

Jamie Orsini is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, military spouse, and a mom to two busy toddlers. In her spare time, Jamie volunteers with the Solar System Ambassador program with NASA/JPL and reads anything she can get her hands on. She’s currently working on her first novel.

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