New York and Other Senators Introduce Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Women make up about half of the nation’s workforce. At some point, an estimated 75 percent of female workers will become pregnant. On May 14th, a number of our nation’s legislators including New York Senator Jerrold Nadler re-introduced federal legislation that would require employers to provide pregnant workers with the same accommodations disabled employees now receive. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was purportedly designed to ensure that pregnant workers are not denied reasonable job modifications which would allow them to continue working. The PWFA’s main goal is apparently to keep pregnant employees from being forced out of their job as a result of pregnancy. If the proposed measure becomes law, it would reportedly close loopholes in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 that currently allow many employers to deny simple pregnant employee requests such as permission to carry a water bottle or use the restroom more frequently.

According to proponents of the bill, the PWFA would essentially require that employers treat pregnancy in substantially the same manner as a temporary disability now protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the PWFA becomes law, employers would allegedly be required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers and bar them from denying work opportunities to pregnant women as a result of their need for such accommodations. Senator Nadler said he believes it is unacceptable for the jobs and livelihoods of pregnant women to remain unprotected. He stated the proposed measure would clarify current federal law and underscore the importance of supporting families in New York and across the nation.

According to Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, the PWFA would benefit the financial security of pregnant women as well as the health of their children. Leveille added that “No woman should be forced by her employer to choose between earning a living and having a safe, healthy pregnancy.”

Currently, employers in New York and across the United States are forbidden from discriminating against a worker based on pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to a pregnancy. Still, pregnancy discrimination is reportedly quite common. Whenever an employer treats a pregnant worker unfavorably or in a prejudicial manner because of her pregnancy or a related medical condition, discrimination has occurred. Despite that pregnancy discrimination may take many forms, examples include an employer who refuses to hire a pregnant worker, a supervisor who disciplines a pregnant employee over pregnancy-related leave or medical requests, and whenever an employee’s opportunity for advancement and promotion is directly impacted by her pregnancy status. If you feel you were the victim of pregnancy discrimination at work, you are advised to contact an experienced lawyer.

The attorneys at Phillips & Associates assist workers and job applicants in the New York City area who suffered pregnancy and other forms of employment discrimination in violation of federal, state, and municipal statutes. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a caring advocate, please call Phillips & Associates at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Court Says New York City Gender and Harassment Case Must Go to Trial, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 8, 2013
EEOC Considers Case of UPS Worker Allegedly Forced Into Unpaid Leave Due to Pregnancy, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 16, 2013
Additional Resources:

Senators Casey and Shaheen, Reps Nadler, Maloney, Speier, Davis and Fudge Introduce Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to Protect Pregnant Women from Workplace Discrimination, Press Release dated May 14, 2013,

New Bill Prevents Employers From Pushing Pregnant Workers Out of Work, Press Release dated May 14, 2013,

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