House passes bill to protect pregnant workers

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The House passed a bill on Thursday to accommodate and protect pregnant workers in a 329-73 vote.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was introduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations and basic workplace protections such as extended water breaks or stools. It is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Pregnancy is not a disability, but sometimes pregnant workers need an easy fix such as a stool or an extra bathroom break to stay on the job. These accommodations are short in duration and typically cost very little to provide, but they can mean the difference between keeping your job or putting your pregnancy at risk,” Nadler said before the vote on Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union endorsed the legislation in October 2019. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed the measure in January.

Neil Bradley, Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer, celebrated its passage on Thursday as good news for women and business.

“By establishing clear guidelines and balancing the needs of workers and employers, this legislation will allow businesses to keep valued employees in the workplace, help ensure healthy pregnancies, and remove legal ambiguities that have led to litigation. This is what happens when Republicans and Democrats work together and I urge the U.S. Senate to take up this bipartisan legislation swiftly,” Bradley said in a statement. 

Other business groups, including the International Franchise Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, H.R. Policy Association and Society for Human Resource Management, also supported the legislation.

The groups, along with the Chamber, wrote a letter to Congress on Monday lobbying for the bill.

The letter referred to the PWFA as a “balanced approach that clarifies an employer’s obligation to accommodate the known limitations of employees and job applicants that accompany pregnancy.” 

The Chamber also informed members of Congress separately that they will consider including this House vote into its “How They Voted” scorecard, which helps determine their campaign endorsements.

“Through our coalition efforts, we saw firsthand what happens when both sides of the aisle come together,” Bradley said on Thursday.

Tags Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler

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