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JAYAPAL VOTES TO ADVANCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN & EXPAND PROTECTIONS FOR PREGNANT WORKERS

The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would guarantee pregnant workers have an affirmative right to reasonable work accommodations

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today applauded the Committee’s advancement of bipartisan legislation to strengthen and expand protections for pregnant workers.  

H.R. 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, would establish pregnant workers’ basic right to a reasonable accommodation – such as extra bathroom breaks or relief from heavy lifting – so that they can continue working without jeopardizing their health or their pregnancy. It advanced through Committee, with two Republicans voting in support. It is supported by a broad coalition of civil rights and business groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Women’s Law Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

“I’m proud that Washington state already has laws on the books to protect pregnant workers and ensure paid family leave—but workers in every state and in every workplace deserve the same rights. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will guarantee that all pregnant workers have an affirmative right to basic work accommodations that allow them to perform their jobs successfully and safeguard their health,” said Jayapal. “It should be obvious that pregnant people should not have to choose between job security and a safe pregnancy, but that’s exactly the choice many in physically demanding jobs like nursing, retail, food service and housecleaning have to make. This bipartisan bill will keep families from losing income they need, diminish job-related stress that can cause harm to the health of pregnant people and their babies, and address one of the causes behind the gender wage gap.”

Washington state and 26 other states have already adopted laws that require employers to provide accommodations to pregnant workers, but there is no federal law which explicitly and affirmatively guarantees these rights, and the standard of proof under which pregnant workers can bring reasonable accommodation discrimination claims under current federal law is prohibitively high.

In 2015, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Young v. UPS allowed pregnant workers to bring reasonable accommodation discrimination claims under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), but pregnant workers are still being denied accommodations because the Young decision set an unreasonably high standard for proving discrimination. As a result, in two-thirds of cases after Young, courts ruled against pregnant workers who were seeking accommodations under the PDA.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

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