Advancing the rights of working families.

Fairness for Pregnant Workers


Fairness for Pregnant Workers

Current employment laws are inadequate to protect pregnant workers on the job. Under federal law, as interpreted by courts in some jurisdictions, employers are not required to make minor job modifications for pregnant women unless they have a pregnancy-related disability. As a result, pregnant women are often forced to take unpaid leave or are fired for requesting a small accommodation. For example, a retail worker can be fired because she is 8 months pregnant and needs more frequent restroom breaks. A pregnant hostess can be fired because she needs a stool. This lack of protection causes significant economic harm to thousands of pregnant women and their families every year, especially low-income and single mothers.

Read our new report, written with the National Women's Law Center, about this issue, "It Shouldn't Be A Heavy Lift: Fair Treatment for Pregnant Workers."



Read the New York Times Op-Ed by Dina Bakst, A Better Balance Co-President, that inspired the introduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act here.      

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and over fifty other co-sponsors introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA; H.R. 5647) in Congress on May 8, 2012. The PWFA ensures pregnant workers will not be fired unecessarily or denied reasonable job modifications that will keep them working while maintaining a healthy pregnancy. To learn more check out our fact sheet, press release, and letter of support from over 100 supporting organizations. Also, be sure to read this report by Equal Rights Advocates in California, detailing the success of their similar legislation and calling for a federal fix. The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce has written a letter of support and you can read another letter from the Coalition for Quality Maternity Care here

Cynthia DiBartolo, Chairperson of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Tigress Financial Partners LLC, has written a letter in support of the PWFA. Please read it here.

On September 19, 2012, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Senate version of the PWFA. To learn more, read our press release.

On May 14th, 2013, Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) in the Senate and Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) reintroduced the PWFA in the House. Read about it in our press release here.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently stated in its Strategic Enforcement Plan that it would prioritize accommodating pregnant workers as an emerging issue. Read A Better Balance's comments on the plan here.

Read a compilation of stories, "Why We Need the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Stories of Real Women," here.

Take Action

Call 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with your Representative (find yours here)--tell them to co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!

We need to hear your story!  Click here to learn how you can share your story.

New York State

Governor Cuomo announced in his January 9, 2013 State of the State Address that he will be advancing the "Women's Equality Act," which will include a provision explicitly protecting pregnant workers in need of a minor modification to stay healthy and on the job. The bill will also include nine other measures to promote equality and break down barriers to women.

A bill focusing exclusively on pregnancy employment discrimination has been introduced in the New York Senate (S1479/A1264; previously S6273/A9114). Specifically, this legislation would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women who make requests with the advice of their health care providers, unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. For more information, read this letter to New York Senate Majority Leader Skelos from organizations supporting the bill, this letter from the Women's Fund of Long Island, and this report by the New York City Bar Committee on Sex and Law--the City Bar's Labor and Employment Committee supported the report. Finally, take a look at this fact sheet about the pregnancy provision of the Women's Equality Agenda.

Take Action

Sign and share this petition to New York State legislators.

We need to hear your story!  Click here to learn how your can share your story.

New York City

The New York City Council voted in favor of the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act by a margin of 47-0 and Mayor Bloomberg signed the bill into law on October 2nd, 2013. The law went into effect on January 30th, 2014. 

Click here to know your rights under the law!

City Council Member James Vacca, lead sponsor, introduced the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in November, 2012. The law explicitly protects pregnant workers in the five boroughs by enabling them to stay on the job with minor modifications.

For more information, view our fact sheet about the bill and our press release. Please also read this letter in support of the bill from Wendy Chavkin, of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. This letter, from Dr. Lucy Willis, a physician in Manhattan, describes some of the health consequences of not accommodating pregnant women at work. This letter of support from several organizations in the city urged Speaker Quinn to support the NYC PWFA.

The New York City Council Civil Rights Committee held a hearing on Intro 974-A, the "Pregnant Workers Fairness Act." Please read A Better Balance's June 25, 2013 testimony here and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District II testimony here.

Please read our summary of the law here. The text of the law is available here.


In May, 2013 Maryland passed legislation to better protect workers with pregnancy-related disabilities. To read the bill, click here.

New Jersey

A vitally important pregnancy discrimination law passed in New Jersey in early 2014. The law will ensure that no pregnant woman will have to jeopardize her health in order to stay safely on the job. Building off our victory in NYC, ABB helped to draft a similar bill for the women of New Jersey, and we testified in support of the bill late last year. Read more here.


On the heels of New York City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act victory, Councilmember Greenlee introduced a similar bill in Philadelphia. Read more here. The bill became law in 2014 and is already in effect.

Other States & Localities

There are many other state and city campaigns against this form of pregnancy discrimination around the country! To find out more or to get involved, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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