Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Passes Senate

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U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families announced the Senate passage yesterday of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure pregnant women are treated fairly on the job. The legislation closes a loophole in the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act by requiring employers to make temporary, reasonable accommodations—like a stool or a water bottle—so that pregnant women can continue to work safely. Seventy-five percent of pregnant women and new mothers are in the workplace and need access to reasonable accommodations. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was included as an amendment in the Fiscal Year 2023 federal appropriations bill. The amendment to add the bill to the spending package passed 73-24.

“Pregnancy should never be a barrier for women who want to stay in the workplace,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation would provide commonsense protections for pregnant workers, like extra bathroom breaks or a stool for workers who stand, so they can continue working while not putting extra strain on their pregnancies. I have been fighting for these protections for a decade and I want to thank my partner, Senator Cassidy, for working tirelessly with me to get this over the finish line.”

“The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act should have and could have passed overwhelmingly long ago with an up or down vote. Regardless, this amendment ensured pregnant mothers will have the workplace accommodations they need. This is pro-mother, pro-life and pro-family,” said Dr. Cassidy.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and would ensure that employers with 15 or more employees provide reasonable accommodations that are often low-cost or no cost, unless it would pose an undue hardship to the employer. The bill includes protections not already codified in the ADA or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would allow pregnant workers to continue working by ensuring they can have accommodations such as additional bathroom breaks, light duty, or a stool to sit on if a worker stands all day. The bill also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations due to childbirth or related medical conditions.

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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was first introduced by Senator Casey in 2012. Since then, Casey has repeatedly introduced the bill and advocated for its passage. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act first garnered bipartisan support in the 114th Congress, and Senators Casey and Cassidy have urged their Senate colleagues to support it after its passage in the House.

Read more about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act here.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is endorsed by over 220 organizations, including A Better Balance, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Association of University Women (AAUW), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, California Women’s Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates, Hadassah, H.R. Policy Association, International Franchise Association, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Legal Aid Society –Employment Law Center, Legal Momentum, Main Street Alliance, March of Dimes, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Retail Federation, National Organization for Women, National Partnership for Women & Families, National WIC Association, National Women’s Law Center, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), UnidosUS, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Zero to Three.

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