On September 19, United States Senators Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will introduce the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) in the Senate. This bill would require employers to provide reasonable job modifications that would allow pregnant women to continue working and supporting their families. These adjustments, such as avoiding heavy lifting or sitting on a chair instead of standing at a cash register all day, are the same sorts of accommodations that are already required for people with disabilities.
The PWFA was introduced in the House of Representatives in May of this year, and already has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House and the support of 119 civil rights and women’s advocacy organizations, unions, and business associations.
“Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center is pleased to endorse the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” said Sharon Terman, Senior Staff Attorney and Director of the Work and Family Project at LAS–ELC. “Seventy-five percent of women in the workforce will become pregnant while employed. Yet far too many women are forced out of their jobs when they need them most – when they are expecting a new child. California enacted reasonable accommodations for pregnant women in 1999, and the law has been used countless times to enable women to keep their jobs and support their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a common-sense public policy. No woman should have to choose between her health and her job.”
California business owner Sam Mogannam, president and founder of the Bi-Rite Family of businesses, endorses the PWFA, noting that Bi-Rite routinely provides accommodations to pregnant employees including chefs and cashiers. He states, “California’s pregnancy accommodation law has posed no issues for us in the years that it has been enacted.”