"It’s encouraging to see so many lawmakers supporting employed women and their families by moving quickly to cosponsor this important legislation," said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. "Equal opportunity in the workplace is an essential right in this country, and it is deplorable that women are still being fired, forced out of their jobs, and denied employment and promotion opportunities because they become pregnant. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is badly needed legislation that would help stem this discrimination and benefit women and their families tremendously."
Women are nearly half of the workforce in the United States, yet many are forced out of their jobs or denied minor job modifications when they become pregnant despite the legal protections provided by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. In fact, pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have increased by 35 percent in the past decade.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 5647), modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act, would put in place the same workplace protections for women with pregnancy-related limitations as the protections already in place for workers with similar limitations. In doing so, it would prevent employers from forcing pregnant women out of the workplace, help ensure that employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women who want to continue working and, ultimately, promote equality for pregnant workers.
"In a country that values family and fairness, having a baby should not mean losing a job or much-needed financial stability," continued Ness. "It’s time for all members of Congress to make passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act a top priority. It is a balanced and reasonable bill that will promote the kind of equality pregnant women who work have long needed and deserved."
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was introduced in the House on May 8, 2012. Since then, 103 representatives have signed on to cosponsor it. Introduction of the bill in the Senate is expected in the coming months.
The National Partnership for Women & Families drafted and led the fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.