As Pregnancy Discrimination Act Turns 40, Congress Must Strengthen and Clarify Law

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“Forty years ago today, the United States took an important step forward for women’s safety and equality in the workplace by passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA makes it illegal for employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, abortion or related medical conditions. As a leader of the coalition that fought for the law’s passage, we are proud of what it has meant for women, families and the country.

Unfortunately, the promise of the PDA remains unfulfilled four decades later. Across states, industries and income levels, pregnant women are still fired, denied reasonable accommodations and harassed, with devastating consequences for women’s employment, earnings and opportunity. Recent reporting has also detailed the disturbing effects of discrimination on the ability of women to have healthy pregnancies. This pernicious discrimination takes place in a culture where maternal mortality is increasing — particularly for Black women — sexual harassment is pervasive, and the majority of working people still lack access to any type of paid leave.

The next Congress should prioritize the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would clarify and strengthen the PDA and require employers to provide pregnant women with known limitations with the reasonable accommodations they need to continue working safely during their pregnancies.”

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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