The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

05.09.12 Lawmakers rally for the rights of working moms-to-be with proposed on-the-job protections


Despite great strides in making the workplace more flexible over the years for moms-to-be, pregnancy discrimination persists in the United States. Whether it's subtle tactics, bold comments or straight-up firings, cases of pregnancy bias complaints have finally prompted some action from current lawmakers.

On Tuesday, Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Jackie Spier, D-Calif., and Susan Davis, D-Calif., introduced federal legislation that would require employers to make accommodations for pregnant women and ban employers from denying women employment due to pregnancy, The New York Times and other news websites are reporting.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would offer protections against workplace discrimination for expectant women, who aren't covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The proposed act would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations that do not present an undue burden. Many women's health advocates for years have been debating over whether pregnancy should be considered a disability or not.

Basically, if passed, "reasonable accommodations" will include things like allowing moms-to-be to carry water bottles, allowing them to sit on a stool while working a cash register, putting them on light duty if faced with lifting restrictions, and other allowances, the Huffington Post reports. The article cited several examples of moms-to-be who were fired for needing these accommodations.

Complaints about pregnancy discrimination have been on the rise for years, so we see this proposed legislation as a step in the right direction. After all, new moms are not even guaranteed paid maternity leave in the U.S.