National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

A Step Forward in Congress for Pregnant Workers and Their Families

September 19, 2012 | Workplace Fairness

It is shameful to think that, nearly 35 years since we banned pregnancy discrimination in this country, pregnant women are still being fired, forced out of their jobs and denied employment and promotion opportunities.

What's worse is that claims of pregnancy discrimination are actually increasing; they've risen 35 percent in the past ten years. When more than three in five pregnant women in the United States (62 percent) are in the labor force and their incomes are critical to their families' economic security, this simply cannot stand.

That is why we are so pleased that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill with substantial and growing support in the House of Representatives (108 cosponsors so far), was introduced in the Senate today. It is a welcome and necessary step forward for women, families and the ongoing effort to curb pregnancy discrimination in this country.

The bill is aimed at addressing discrimination against pregnant women who are forced out of their jobs or denied minor job modifications - even though their employers routinely make similar modifications for male employees who have been injured or are temporarily impaired.

Quite simply, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that pregnant workers are treated equally. It would ensure the same protections for women with pregnancy-related limitations as the protections already in place for workers with similar limitations. It would prevent employers from forcing pregnant women out of the workplace. And it would help ensure that employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women who want to continue working.

In a country that claims to value family and fairness, we must not allow workers to be unnecessarily and unfairly pushed out of their jobs due to pregnancy. We commend Senators Robert Casey (D - Penn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D - N.H.) for championing this bill. Now, it's time for all members of Congress to make it a priority.


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