House lawmakers reintroduce Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
Washington — A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has reintroduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in an effort to establish “a pregnant worker’s clear-cut right to reasonable workplace accommodations.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), along with co-sponsors Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), John Katko (R-NY), Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), reintroduced the bill Feb. 16. Nadler has introduced five other versions of the bill under the same title since May 2012. The previous version (H.R. 2694) was the only one to pass the House – by a 329-73 vote Sept. 17 – but the Senate didn’t take it up.
The bill would require private-sector employers with 15 or more workers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant employees (i.e., workers and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions). Those accommodations include an extra bathroom break, a stool, limiting contact with certain chemicals and a reduction in lifting requirements.
The legislation would protect workers from retaliation after making such accommodation requests, the denial of employment opportunities and forced paid/unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation is available.
“Current federal law does not clearly guarantee pregnant workers’ right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace – such as water, seating, bathroom breaks and lifting restrictions,” Scott, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a press release. “These basic protections are critical to protecting pregnant workers from the tragic consequences of unsafe working conditions, and they are particularly important today, as early evidence suggests that pregnancy leads to an elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”
The bill has “broad support from more than 200 workers advocates, civil rights groups and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” the release states.