Members of Congress and Advocates Announce Federal Legislation Protecting Pregnant Workers from Discrimination
May 8, 2012—Today Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 63 cosponsors, including Jackie Speier, Susan Davis, and Anna Eshoo of California, will introduce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This legislation would require employers to provide reasonable job modifications that would allow pregnant women to continue working and supporting their families.
“Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center is pleased to endorse the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act" said Sharon Terman, Senior Staff Attorney and Director of the Work and Family Project at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. "Seventy-five percent of women in the workforce will become pregnant while employed. Yet far too many women are forced out of their jobs when they need them most – when they are expecting a new child. California enacted reasonable accommodations for pregnant women in 1999, and the law has been used countless times to enable women to keep their jobs and support their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a common-sense public policy. No woman should have to choose between her health and her job.”
One woman who was protected by California's law was Laura, a client of Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. "I work as a program counselor at a facility for people with developmental disabilities," she said. "When I was pregnant my doctor recommended that I not bend and twist when securing wheelchairs to a bus. I asked my supervisor for this adjustment. She responded by forcing me out on unpaid leave for the rest of my pregnancy, even though I was not disabled and could do my job with this minor accommodation. My employer also threatened to fire me if I didn't return to work in 4 months. The four-month deadline was right when I was expected to have my baby. Thankfully, I learned that I was protected by California law. After Legal Aid informed my employer of this law, I was reinstated to my job and given the adjustment I needed. I recently had a healthy baby boy and am looking forward to returning to work. All women should have this basic protection."
The proposed legislation was announced at a news conference in Washington, D.C., featuring Members of Congress and representatives from supporting organizations, including Legal Aid Staff Attorney Rachael Langston.