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U.S. House passes bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Upton cosponsored the legislation to protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today voted for and the U.S. House passed bipartisan legislation that he cosponsored – the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – to protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination. The bill passed 329-73.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act addresses legal ambiguities and helps ensure pregnant women are treated fairly on the job. The legislation, which is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), would require employers to make reasonable accommodations — such as a minor job modification — that would allow pregnant workers to continue working and prevent them from being forced out on leave or out of their jobs. The bill also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

The bill now advances to the U.S. Senate.

“All workers should have the protections needed to stay safe in their workplace, but unfortunately for too many pregnant women, those protections just aren’t there,” Upton said. “Working and staying safe are not mutually exclusive. Accommodations that are necessary but sometimes denied - like providing a stool to sit on or lighter lifting duties – limit the ability for a pregnant women to maintain a healthy pregnancy and still work. This commonsense bill makes it abundantly clear to pregnant workers and employers what is expected in order to keep the workplace safe. I hope to see it passed quickly through the U.S. Senate.”

75 percent of working women will become pregnant while employed at some time in their life, and 62 percent of pregnant women and new moms are in the labor force, yet under current law, pregnant workers can be placed on unpaid leave or forced out when they need a simple accommodation to stay on the job.

Specifically, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act establishes that:

·    Private sector employers (with more than 15 employees) and public sector employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (this includes employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions).  Employers do not have to provide reasonable accommodations if doing so would cause them undue hardship.

·    Pregnant workers cannot be forced to accept an accommodation not arrived at through employer-employee negotiations, denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.

·    Pregnant workers denied a reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those under existing civil rights statutes including, lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

The legislation is supported by more than 180 organizations, including 1,000 Days, A Better Balance, American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Equal Rights Advocates, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Legal Aid at Work, Legal Momentum, March of Dimes, MomsRising, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Law Center, Oxfam, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The bill was originally introduced by U.S. Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA).

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