Current employment laws are inadequate to protect pregnant workers on the job. Under federal law, as interpreted by courts in some jurisdictions, employers are not required to make minor job modifications for pregnant women unless they have a pregnancy-related disability. As a result, pregnant women are often forced to take unpaid leave or are fired for requesting a small accommodation. For example, a retail worker can be fired because she is 8 months pregnant and needs more frequent restroom breaks. A pregnant hostess can be fired because she needs a stool. This lack of protection causes significant economic harm to thousands of pregnant women and their families every year, especially low-income and single mothers.
Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and over fifty other co-sponsors introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA; H.R. 5647) in Congress on May 8, 2012. The PWFA ensures pregnant workers will not be fired unecessarily or denied reasonable job modifications that will keep them working while maintaining a healthy pregnancy. To learn more check out our fact sheet, press release, and letter of support from over 100 supporting organizations. Also, be sure to read this report by Equal Rights Advocates in California, detailing the success of their similar legislation and calling for a federal fix. The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce has written a letter of support and you can read another letter from the Coalition for Quality Maternity Care here.
On September 19, 2012, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Senate version of the PWFA. To learn more, read our press release.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently stated in its Strategic Enforcement Plan that it would prioritize accommodating pregnant workers as an emerging issue. Read A Better Balance's comments on the plan here.
Read a compilation of stories, "Why We Need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Stories of Real Women," here.
Call 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with your Representative (find yours here)--tell them to co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!
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Governor Cuomo announced in his January 9, 2013 State of the State Address that he will be advancing the "Women's Equality Act," which will include a provision explicitly protecting pregnant workers in need of a minor modification to stay healthy and on the job. The bill will also include nine other measures to promote equality and break down barriers to women.
A bill focusing exclusively on pregnancy employment discrimination has been introduced in the New York Senate (S1479/A1264; previously S6273/A9114). Specifically, this legislation would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women who make requests with the advice of their health care providers, unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. For more information see Dina Bakst's Op-Ed in the New York Times. Also, read this letter to New York Senate Majority Leader Skelos from organizations supporting the bill, this letter from the Women's Fund of Long Island, and this report by the New York City Bar Committee on Sex and Law--the City Bar's Labor and Employment Committee supported the report. Finally, take a look at this fact sheet about the pregnancy provision of the Women's Equality Agenda.
Find out how you can get involved here.
We need to hear your story! Click here to learn how your can share your story.
City Council Member James Vacca, lead sponsor, introduced the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in November, 2012. The bill would explicitly protect pregnant workers in the five boroughs by enabling them to stay on the job with minor modifications.
For more information, view our fact sheet about the bill and our press release. Please also read this letter in support of the bill from Wendy Chavkin, of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. This letter, from Dr. Lucy Willis, a physician in Manhattan, describes some of the health consequences of not accommodating pregnant women at work. This letter of support from several organizations in the city urges Speaker Quinn to support the NYC PWFA.
Please call or email your City Council Member (you can find out who represents you at this website) and ask them to cosponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Tell them that pregnant women need this law so they can stay healthy and on the job.