What You Need To Know About The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act


Four days ago, Senator Bob Casey introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to the Senate floor, supported by the National Women’s Law Center. The bill had first been introduced to the House in May, and it now has more than 100 co-sponsors, as well as the support of businesses, worker organizations, women’s groups and religious groups. It was designed to supplement and amend the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, passed by Congress in 1978, which has proved itself inadequate to protect pregnant workers, particularly those on their feet. An exerpt of the vintage law says that there will be no discrimination in the workplace

…because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes.

Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was instituted, women were expected to go on flat-out maternity leave immediately and suffered if they didn’t, so it was effective for the time. But it didn’t account for the minor adjustments that are often necessary to accommodate the physical requirements of pregnant employees.

For example, a pregnant woman was fired from Wal-Mart for carrying a water bottle with her. Another was fired for taking bathroom breaks at McDonalds and another at Rent-A-Center for needing assistance with heavy lifting. Many companies have a record of accommodating male employees with back injuries with the same kind of lighter physical workload that would suffice for pregnant women, but weren’t required by law to follow through. With the passing of PWFA, they would be.

One interesting note: as of August, pro-life advocacy organizations were conspicuously mum about backing the bill, and since then, there’s been no record to the contrary.

‘It Shouldn’t Be A Heavy Lift: Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Introduced in Senate’ [National Women’s Law Center]

Image via Zdorov Kirill Vladimirovich/Shutterstock

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