Washington, D.C. – Today, the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)—which would guarantee reasonable workplace accommodations for pregnant workers under federal law—reached the milestone of 223 House cosponsors. The bill, which was reintroduced last week by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Representatives John Katko (R-NY), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA),and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), seeks to ensure that no pregnant worker is ever forced to make the impossible decision between the health of their pregnancy and a paycheck.
“I’m thrilled to be joined by 223 of my House colleagues—Democrats and Republicans both—in sponsoring the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This is a common sense bill that, once enacted into law, will provide a meaningful, tangible difference in the lives of so many,” said Chairman Nadler. “For so many pregnant workers, and particularly immigrant workers and women of color, even a modest accommodation—such as an extended break or a glass of water—can make a world of difference between being able to stay on the job or being forced out on leave. There’s a reason that this bill has the support of both worker advocates and business groups: ensuring that pregnant workers can remain in the workforce without fearing for their health is good for both families and our economy. I’m proud to have reintroduced the PWFA, even prouder of the bipartisan support it has earned, and I will be proudest once it becomes the law of the land.”
The PWFA has received wide-ranging support both within Congress and outside of it, with over two hundred worker advocates, civil rights groups, and business groups—including the Chamber of Commerce—urging its passage.
Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President, A Better Balance: “We thank Reps. Nadler, Scott, McBath, Katko, and Herrera-Beutler for leading on the critical, bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and look forward to swift passage in the House and for the Senate to follow suit without delay. Day in and day out at, we continue to hear from women who are forced out of work or forced to risk their health because they cannot receive modest changes at work to keep them healthy and earning a paycheck. The pandemic has exposed that without the infrastructure and rights in place to support the needs of pregnant workers, particularly those in low wage jobs who are disproportionately people of color, women are being forced out of the workplace in droves. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will remedy the injustice facing pregnant workers and ensure they can get the accommodations they need and the equality they deserve. It is long overdue.”
Glenn Spencer, Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The Chamber welcomes the reintroduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This bill sets up an equitable process for employers and employees to work together in finding reasonable solutions to keeping pregnant employees in the workplace, which will reduce the chance for litigation. The strong bipartisan vote in the last Congress indicates the broad appeal of the PWFA. We are pleased to endorse this bill again and look forward to helping it get enacted.”
Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union: “We applaud the introduction of the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and thank the co-sponsors for their leadership. When a pregnant worker is fired or forced to take unpaid leave because her employer refuses to provide a temporary job modification, the economic impact can be severe. If she is the sole or primary breadwinner for her children, as nearly half of working women are, her entire family will be without an income when they most need it. These devastating impacts fall especially heavily on Black women who have higher labor force participation rates and also experience unconscionably high maternal mortality rates. PWFA is a dire necessity to safeguard women’s health and economic security and we are eager to work towards its swift passage.”
Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO, March of Dimes: “We applaud Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Bobby Scott, Rep. John Katko, Rep. Jaimie Herrera-Beutler, and Rep. Lucy McBath for reintroducing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would ensure that pregnant workers have reasonable accommodations and can work safely while pregnant. Prioritizing a safe working environment for pregnant women is critical and now more important than ever before as the United States battles both the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing maternal and infant health crisis. We have a responsibility to protect pregnant workers and help them have the healthiest pregnancies possible without fear of discrimination or retaliation in a potentially unsafe workplace. Now is the time to pass this bipartisan legislation that will promote healthy pregnancies and economic security for all women and their families.”
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO, MomsRising: “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will make our workplaces more fair, keep more women employed at this time when the pandemic is forcing millions out of their jobs, and help dismantle the racism that contributes to the country’s shameful Black maternal health crisis. Nobody should have to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy, but too many people – especially women of color and immigrant women – do. This bipartisan, urgently needed bill should have become law long ago. Congress must prioritize its passage so President Biden can sign it into law.”
Angela Aina, Executive Director, Black Mamas Matter Alliance: “Black Mamas Matter Alliance is excited for the reintroduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in the 117th Congress. On the heels of the national response to a global pandemic, workforce accommodations will significantly impact Black pregnant and birthing people returning to work including those that were required to stay at their workplace. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has the capability to ensure Black parenting people can prioritize the health of themselves and their children, without risk of losing their employment. A commitment to pregnancy fairness by policymakers can pave the way for businesses to gain the infrastructure needed to support all birthing people.”
Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families: “More than forty years after the passage of the historic Pregnancy Discrimination Act, thousands of workers continue to be denied the reasonable accommodations needed to have healthy pregnancies without sacrificing their jobs and income. Pregnant workers are forced out of jobs when employers refuse to provide minor job modifications that would allow them to stay healthy and have healthy babies. At a time when the U.S. has some of the worst maternal health outcomes with extreme disparities suffered by Black, Indigenous and Latinx people, it is imperative that Congress pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to protect the health of workers and their babies. We commend Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Bobby Scott, Rep. John Katko, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Rep. Lucy McBath for their leadership and thank them for reintroducing this legislation.”
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO, National WIC Association: “For years, the National WIC Association and WIC providers have been at the forefront of advocating for federal protections that support pregnant workers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is sweeping bipartisan legislation that will implement equitable accommodations. As COVID-19 continues to devastate the nation, the need for these protections is even more urgent. We implore Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because women should not have to choose between financial preservation and a healthy pregnancy. We are immensely grateful to the bill sponsors and Chairman Bobby Scott for overseeing this critical legislation.”
Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, National Women’s Law Center: “Seventy-one percent of mothers are in the labor force—but in 2021, women are still routinely forced to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is for all the pregnant workers who just want to do their jobs and support their families but are blocked when employers refuse to make even minor temporary changes to accommodate their medical needs. The pandemic makes it indisputable: when many pregnant workers are on the frontlines keeping the country going, we must no longer deny them the accommodations they need to stay healthy.”
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice: “My Catholic faith affirms the dignity of pregnant women and the call to care for their unborn. The vast majority of first time mothers work into or through their last trimester. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) would ensure that these vulnerable women can continue to work safely to support their families. This isn’t a partisan issue. It is immoral to force a woman to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy, and the PWFA would end that cruelty.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism: “The Union for Reform Judaism is proud to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The Talmud teaches that: “One who withholds an employee’s wages is as though [they] deprived [the worker] of [their] life” (Baba Metzia 112a). With protections and reasonable workplace accommodations, pregnant workers can keep earning a livelihood while protecting their health, so no worker faces the agonizing choice between a healthy pregnancy and their family’s financial security.”
Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act:
- 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 Americans with Disabilities Act, 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 to 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.
To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act bill text, click here.
To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act fact sheet, click here.
To read the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act section by section, click here.