New Federal Pregnancy Legislation Proposed
There are currently several pieces of legislation that address pregnancy in the U.S., however a coalition of legislators recently introduced a new one that, if enacted, would provide for reasonable accommodation for all pregnant workers. The goal of the proposed Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), initiated by five Democratic representatives, is to fill the gaps left behind by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
The PDA, enacted in 1978, prohibits employers from discriminating against a pregnant woman in regards to hiring, firing, pay, promotions, fringe benefits and any other employment conditions, and requires that pregnant employees be treated the same as sick or temporarily disabled employees. The problem that pregnant women have faced with this piece of legislation is that it does not mandate that any accommodations or adjustments be made to allow them to continue working. As a result, there have been several examples of pregnant workers across the U.S. being terminated for requesting simple accommodations during their pregnancy, often recommended by their healthcare provider.
The PWFA, largely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), seeks to remedy this by providing new rights at the federal level to pregnant workers who want to stay on the job, but require some form of accommodation to do so. While the ADA fundamentally addresses and protects those with disabilities, normal or healthy pregnancies do not classify and are therefore not currently covered under the ADA.
Aside from the federal pregnancy legislation, employers should also be aware of the leave laws that many states extend to pregnant workers. These vary greatly across the U.S. and add another layer of complexity. In our latest whitepaper, the U.S. Pregnancy Leave Guide: A State by State Look at Pregnancy Leave Legislation, we overview federal legislation and provide a state by state comparison of leave requirements, entitlements and benefits, an invaluable resource when determining which legislation applies to you. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as the PWFA develops, but in the meantime, download your free copy of the Pregnancy Leave Guide today.
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