STATEMENT: U.S. Senate Must Act On House-Passed Pregnant Workers Fairness Act To Ensure Overdue Protections for Pregnant Workers

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act with bipartisan support. The bill would help ensure that pregnant workers receive reasonable accommodations when they need them without experiencing discrimination or retaliation from their employer. Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow with the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response to today’s vote:

For too long, workers have had to navigate uneven—and at times nonexistent—protections in the workplace when requesting basic accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The refusal to grant reasonable requests that include the ability to take water or  bathroom breaks unfairly and unnecessarily penalizes pregnant workers, jeopardizing both their health and their economic well-being. This is especially dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic for workers who are pregnant and still must go into a physical workplace. Black women, in particular, are disproportionately front-line workers, yet face staggeringly high rates of maternal mortality in the United States.

Today’s bipartisan passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in the House is a significant step forward to extend protections for pregnant workers who need accommodations. Representatives on both sides of the aisle recognize that workers should not have to choose between their own health and safety during pregnancy and keeping their job. Now the Senate must pass this commonsense bill to support the health and economic security of pregnant workers and create more equitable workplaces where all workers can succeed.

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