The Huffington Post reports several pregnant women have been fired from their jobs for carrying water bottles to stay hydrated when, according to store rules, they were not allowed to, and for failing to perform heavy-lifting duties after one woman’s doctor told her to avoid such activity after a near-miscarriage. Although these women sued their employers for wrongful termination, they both lost.
But The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), introduced Friday by Sens. Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), may change the future for women who find themselves in similar situations. The PWFA would require employers to make the same kind of workplace accommodations for pregnant women that current law requires them to make for people with disabilities.
“Pregnant workers face discrimination in the workplace every day, which is an inexcusable detriment to women and working families in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Casey said. “This legislation will finally extend fairness to pregnant women so that they can continue to contribute to a productive economy while progressing through pregnancy in good health.”
“As more and more women are working longer into their pregnancies, they deserve reasonable accommodations to maintain their safety and health,” Shaheen said. “Providing such assistance is a win for both employers and employees, as women are able to work longer and more productively at their jobs while also providing for their families and helping strengthen our economy.”
The bill, modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, would prevent employers from forcing pregnant women out of the workplace by placing them on unpaid leave, firing them, or forcing them to quit when they are denied the accommodations they need to continue working safely. The bill would also help ensure that employers provide job modifications when it would allow a woman to continue working during pregnancy.