A bill that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers had a hearing by the House Education and Labor subcommittee last week.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694), sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), would mandate that employers make minor job modifications, if needed, to allow a pregnant worker to continue employment. Accommodations could include different seating, more frequent bathroom breaks, or lighter duty. The bill would also prohibit employers from denying job opportunities to pregnant women who may need accommodations.
Predictably, the measure is drawing support from Democratic lawmakers and opposition from Republicans.
Advocates of the bill like the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) say pregnant workers are forced out of their jobs and denied reasonable accommodations that would enable them to continue working and supporting their families.
“The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would help end this discrimination and promote healthy pregnancies and protect the economic security of pregnant women and their families,” according to the NPWF.
Twenty-seven states do have laws in place that require employees to provide accommodations for pregnant workers, but there are none – say advocates – on the federal level.
Opponents disagree, pointing to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694), is cosponsored by 119 Democrats and three Republicans—Reps. Will Hurd (Texas), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), and John Katko (N.Y.).
If it does pass in the House, Washington observers say it will likely meet with stiff resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate.