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Courtney Helps Pass Bipartisan ‘Pregnant Workers Fairness Act’

September 17, 2020
Press Release
New bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Courtney, would establish pregnant workers’ right to workplace accommodations

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694), a bipartisan bill that would establish a pregnant worker’s right to reasonable workplace accommodations. H.R. 2694 would require private sector employers with more than fifteen employees and public sector employers to make reasonable accommodations for job applicants and workers with known limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions so that no American worker has to choose between financial security and a healthy pregnancy. Rep. Courtney is a co-sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which passed the House today on a bipartisan basis by a vote of 329-73.

“Nearly ninety percent of first-time mothers in the U.S. worked during their last trimester, according to the most recent data, and over sixty percent of workers report having witnessed pregnancy discrimination on the job,” said Congressman Courtney. “It’s not a partisan issue—no American should have to choose between their family’s financial security and a healthy pregnancy, and especially not during a global pandemic. Our bipartisan bill would finally establish the clear-cut right to reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, and it would do so in a way that remains flexible and reasonable for employers. Our bill has broad support on both sides of the aisle, and from hundreds of stakeholders including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There’s no excuse for the Senate to add this to its pile of unanswered legislation—the support is there, they should pass this bill immediately.”

Women are increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners in American households, and a growing number of pregnant workers are working later into their pregnancies to maintain their family’s financial security. According to the most recent census data, 88% of mothers worked during their last trimester.

Although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide some protections for pregnant workers, there is currently no federal law that explicitly and affirmatively guarantees all pregnant workers the right to a reasonable accommodation so that they can continue working without jeopardizing their pregnancy.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would establish that:

  • Private sector employers with more than 15 employees, as well as public sector employers, must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions). Similar to the ADA, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business;
  • Pregnant workers cannot be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available;
  • Workers denied a reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Public sector employees have similar relief available under the Congressional Accountability Act, Title V of the United States Code, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has broad support from over 250 worker advocates, civil rights groups, and the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For a list of endorsing organizations, click here.