Under a new bill introduced by Sens. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), titled the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, employers would be required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to women during pregnancy, such as reassigning heavy lifting tasks or providing a stool for long periods of standing.
The bill is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires employers with a least 15 employees to provide employees with disabilities “reasonable accommodations” to perform the essential functions and duties of the job, as long as the accommodation does not create an undue hardship.
The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act provides pregnant women some anti-discrimination protections, but multiple courts have ruled that neither this act, nor the ADA, require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women.
“If employers make these reasonable adjustments, pregnant workers could work longer under safer conditions and continue to provide for their families,” the National Women’s Law Center, which supports the bill, said in a news release. “And employers would benefit by retaining their trained workforce and avoiding the costs of high turnover. The Senate should support this win-win proposition for working women and businesses.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced a similar bill in May in the House of Representatives, which now has more than 100 co-sponsors.