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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act introduced in the U.S. Senate and House

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate, would give pregnant women the right to reasonable accommodations similar to employees with disabilities. Currently, under Maine and federal law, employers may not discriminate against pregnant employees. However, if an employer would ordinarily refuse to provide a certain type of reasonable accommodation to an employee, like regular restroom breaks, it would not have to provide a pregnant employee with that accommodation. The PWFA would change that and require employers to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations.

“Pregnant workers face discrimination in the workplace every day, which is an inexcusable detriment to women and working families in Pennsylvania and across the country,” said Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA). “My bill will finally extend fairness to pregnant women so that they can continue to contribute to a productive economy while progressing through pregnancy in good health.”

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) supports the PWFA. To illustrate the need for the PWFA, the NWLC points to a case where Wal-Mart refused to allow a pregnant employee to carry a water bottle at work even though her doctor ordered her to do so. It also points to a case where Old Navy fired an employee who asked management to not require her to lift heavy objects and climb ladders during the final month-and-a-half of her pregnancy. The PWFA is necessary to prevent this type of mistreatment of pregnant workers.

Chellie Pingree is a co-sponsor of the House version of PWFA but other members of Maine’s congressional delegation have not yet co-sponsored it.