WATERBURY– Recently, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect. The law, co-sponsored by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05), is a massive win for pregnant individuals in the workforce. Pregnant workers will now see their rights expanded and respected in the workplace by providing groundbreaking protections for pregnant, postpartum and pumping workers including the right to extra breaks, flexible scheduling for medical appointments, time off to recover from birth, lighter workloads, and much more.

“I remember working while pregnant, it takes a toll. On top of those challenges, many pregnant employees are forced into financial insecurity when they are required to take unpaid leave or denied additional breaks all while avoiding added stress on their babies. Pregnant workers deserve access to accommodations to continue to perform well in their roles,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. “Before this week, there were no federal protections to explicitly guarantee all pregnant workers the right to basic accommodations. The implementation of Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has changed that nationwide and will change the lives of so many individuals in our workforce. I look forward to seeing women in the workforce be able to work free from discrimination as a result of this important legislation.” 

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed on a bipartisan vote in the 117th Congress and was signed into law by President Biden last year. Congresswoman Hayes, as a member of the then Committee on Education and Labor, voted to move the bill out of committee and consistently advocated for the advancement of accessibility for pregnant individuals as the nation battled the Covid-19 pandemic. As a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, the Congresswoman stressed the impact this legislation will have on women of color who face higher risk for pregnancy-related complications like pre-term labor, preeclampsia and hypertensive disorders.

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). 
  • 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.

It is important you know your rights. Learn more.