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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Women in the United States comprise roughly half of the workforce, and it has been estimated that 72% of female workers will become pregnant during the course of their career. And yet, pregnant workers in this country still do not have the full legal protection of the law. Many expectant women continue to be discharged from their jobs or denied reasonable accommodations that would enable them to fulfill their duties safely, leaving them and their families economically and physically vulnerable. Over the last 10 years, there have been almost 40,000 pregnancy discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and recurrent litigation, emphasizing the inadequacy of current statutory protections.

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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act, a bicameral bill, was introduced in the Senate yesterday by a group of bipartisan lawmakers led by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). Its House counterpart is led by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and John Katko (R-NY). This legislation will help to “eliminate discrimination and promote women’s health and economic security by ensuring reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.”


In addition, the bill would provide legal remedies for covered employees subject to discriminatory practices:

  1. Qualifying private sector employees covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have access to the enforcement powers, procedures, and remedies established under the act and could be awarded compensatory or punitive damages and relief as such.
  2. Qualifying public sector employees would have similar remedies covered under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, U.S. Code Chapter 5 of Title 3, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991.

Further, the bill has provisions that explicitly prohibit retaliation against individuals who exercise their rights under this law or encourage others to do so. Retaliation would include a range of activities including but not limited to coercion, intimidation, interference, and threats.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that all pregnant women would have access to the kind of reasonable accommodations that would enable pregnant workers to maintain their employment while protecting their health and the health of their pregnancies.

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