Should Congress require that employers make accommodations for pregnant employees?

This bill has Passed the House of Representatives
Bill Summary

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act seeks to ensure equal opportunity for pregnant employees. The proposed legislation mandates that all employers with above 15 employees have to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees as long as they do not pose an “undue hardship” for the employer. In addition, the bill ensures that pregnant workers can not be denied equal employment opportunities because they are pregnant or be forced to take leave due to their pregnancy. Enforcement of this legislation would be overseen by the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission. Sponsor: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Democrat, New York, District 10) View full bill text ➔

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Opponents say

• "Discrimination of any type should not be tolerated, and no one should ever be denied an opportunity because of unlawful discrimination…[The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act] as introduced, does not require a pregnant worker—in order to be eligible for an accommodation—to be able to perform the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation…[In addition], the legislation before us today does not currently include a long-standing provision from the Civil Rights Act which protects religious organizations from being forced to make employment decisions that conflict with their faith." Source: Rep. Virginia Foxx (Republican, North Carolina, District 5)

• "Discrimination of any type should not be tolerated, and no one should ever be denied an opportunity because of unlawful discrimination. That is why there are important protections under federal law to prevent workplace discrimination, including federal laws that protect pregnant workers… The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides protections to pregnant workers; the Pregnancy Discrimination Act outlaws pregnancy discrimination; a 2015 Supreme Court ruling affirmed that employers must treat pregnant workers equally and fairly…overzealous government intervention often causes more harm than good. While we are committed to preventing and combating unlawful discrimination, we should carefully examine legislation that could cause confusion and prove difficult to implement." Source: Rep. James Comer> (Republican, Kentucky, District 1)

Proponents say

• "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." Source: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Democrat, New York, District 10)

• "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." Source: Vania Leveille (Senior Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union)