On September 17, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives through bipartisan support passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bill calls for the provision of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers when they need them without having to experience discrimination or retaliation from their employer.

Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow with the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response to today’s vote:

“For too long, workers have had to navigate uneven—and at times nonexistent—protections in the workplace when requesting basic accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The refusal to grant reasonable requests that include the ability to take water or bathroom breaks unfairly and unnecessarily penalizes pregnant workers, jeopardizing both their health and their economic well-being. This is especially dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic for workers who are pregnant and still must go into a physical workplace. Black women, in particular, are disproportionately front-line workers, yet face staggeringly high rates of maternal mortality in the United States.”

How Does the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Protect Workers? 

The passage of this act in the House is an important step towards extending additional protections for pregnant women in the workplace who need accommodations. Our lawmakers understand that pregnant workers should not have to choose between their job and a safe pregnancy. 

Some of the protections provided in the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act include:

  • Strong emphasis that employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for workers affected by pregnancy and childbirth. 
  • Mandates an interactive process between employers and pregnant workers to determine the necessary accommodations. 
  • If accommodations present an undue hardship, a business can be exempted. 
  • Pregnant workers are protected from retaliation, intimidation, or coercion if they request accommodations. 
  • The rules apply to employers with 15+ employees.

The bill will now make its way to the Senate for passage. 

Protecting the Rights of Pregnant Workers in New Jersey

We at Burnham Douglass believe that pregnancy is meant to be an exciting, happy time and the workplace should provide reasonable accommodations to women without jeopardizing their safety or their job. If you have experienced discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, call us to help provide a remedy.

We provide free employment law consultations. Send us a message online to schedule yours.