This week Congress took up legislation that, for once, is designed to actually benefit women.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act seeks to protect pregnant women from common workplace discrimination and to “ensure that pregnant women are not forced out of jobs unnecessarily or denied reasonable modifications that would allow them to continue working.”
Judith Lichtman, Senior Advisor, National Partnership for Women & Families released the following statement in response to the bill.
It is absolutely unacceptable that nearly 35 years after pregnancy discrimination was outlawed in this country, women are still fired, forced out of their jobs, and denied employment and promotion opportunities because they become pregnant. It is a shame and a blot on our nation’s commitment to equal opportunity that pregnancy discrimination claims continue to rise. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is balanced, reasonable and badly needed legislation that would help to stem this tide of discrimination, which costs women and their families terribly.
Women are nearly half of the workforce in the United States, and their income is increasingly important to their families and our economy. Pregnant women throughout the country work hard to make ends meet, but too often, they are forced out of their jobs or denied minor job modifications that would allow them to continue providing for their families while protecting their health and the health of their babies.
In a country that values family and fairness, having a baby should not mean losing a job and jeopardizing family financial stability. Pregnant workers should be treated the same as other workers who benefit from vital workplace protections, and that’s exactly what the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would help ensure. By putting in place the same workplace protections for women with pregnancy-related limitations as the protections already in place for workers with similar limitations, it will prevent employers from forcing pregnant women out of their jobs, help ensure employers provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women who want to continue working, and promote the kind of equality pregnant workers have long needed and deserved.
The protections under the bill are modeled after the Americans With Disabilities Act and are necessary because, as a temporary condition, pregnancy is not covered under the ADA or other civil rights bills that target specific, on-the-job discrimination.
Lichtman was clear what this bill means for women across the country. “With this bill, Representatives Nadler (D – N.Y.), Maloney (D – N.Y.), Speier (D – Calif.) and Davis (D – Calif.) have pointed the way to a solution to a very serious problem facing women and families in this country. We thank them for championing this issue and call on all members of Congress to prioritize equality for pregnant workers by passing this bill.”
Finally Congress is taking a step in the right direction in trying to help keep women in the workplace rather than force them out.
Photo from janineomg via flickr.