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Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Tuesday. The bill would protect pregnant women from being denied reasonable workplace accommodations that would enable them to protect their health during pregnancy and keep their jobs.
Pregnancy is not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not require employers to make accommodations for women's health. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers:
[...] to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and preventing employers from forcing women out on leave when another reasonable accommodation would allow them to continue working. The bill also bars employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Reasonable accommodations include things like allowing pregnant women to carry water bottles, letting them sit on a stool while working a cash register, putting them on light duty when they face lifting restrictions. As minor as these workplace changes would be, some employers would rather fire a pregnant worker or force her on unpaid leave over them. Women who've experienced this include:
[...] the U.P.S. worker denied the “light duty” that was available to injured workers (who then lost her medical coverage when she was placed on unpaid leave), the Walmart employee fired for carrying a water bottle, and the nursing home activity director who asked for help moving tables and pushing wheelchairs and was terminated over the request (even though her fellow employees were already voluntarily assisting her with those jobs)[.]
We know Republicans care more about fetuses than they do about women or children, at least if those women and children happen to be low-income. But here's a bill that is designed to make it easier for pregnant women to protect not only their own health but that of their fetuses. Will congressional Republicans support this bill, to protect the fetus if not the woman, or will they side with employers who think it's unacceptable to be forced to allow a pregnant woman to carry a water bottle?