Washington, D.C. – Today, the House passed H.R. 1065, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05). This legislation establishes a pregnant worker’s right to reasonable workplace accommodations, provided they do not impose an unnecessary burden on their employer. Currently, there is no federal law which explicitly guarantees all pregnant workers the right to basic accommodations – such as appropriate seating, water breaks, and relief from heavy lifting – so they can continue working without jeopardizing their pregnancy.
“The last year has been one of the hardest on record for working women,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “Faced with juggling job responsibilities, increased child care concerns, and supervising remote learning, too many women have decided to leave the workforce. It is essential that we do not allow pregnancy discrimination to be yet another barrier to women’s economic success.
“When reasonable accommodation are denied it puts a pregnancy needlessly in peril. When worker are forced into unpaid, unrequested leave a family is thrown into financial insecurity. When pregnant women don’t receive a paycheck it further exacerbates the wage gap and financial discrimination that women endure every day. I voted to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to give women the simple assurance that their pregnancy will not be used as another opportunity to limit their success.”
Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act:
- Private sector employers with more than 15 employees, as well as public sector employers, must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions).
- Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.
- Pregnant workers cannot be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.
- Workers denied a reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
- Public sector employees have similar relief available under the Congressional Accountability Act, Title V of the United States Code, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.