Washington, D.C. — Today, a broad, influential group of advocates committed to the health, safety, and economic security of pregnant workers rallied on Capitol Hill to push for the passage of legislation during the lame-duck session to protect pregnant and postpartum workers. Advocates ranging from A Better Balance and the American Civil Liberties Union to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed urgency for the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) this year (a full list of participants can be found below).
In addition to the groups represented at the rally, speakers included Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) along with Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL). Senator Casey is the lead sponsor of the Senate legislation. Rep. Nadler sponsored the House version of the measure.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would close gaps in our federal law and ensures that pregnant and postpartum workers are guaranteed reasonable accommodations so they don’t have to choose between their economic security and a healthy pregnancy, safe recovery from childbirth, or the ability to pump at work. The PWFA will guarantee pregnant and postpartum workers the dignity, respect, and equality they deserve, especially those workers in frontline, physically demanding jobs who are the backbone of our economy. The bill passed the House of Representatives with over 300 votes and has the 60 votes needed to ensure Senate passage.
“I first introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act more than a decade ago; since then, I have met with countless pregnant workers and listened to their heartrending stories of having to make the impossible decision between staying at work or protecting the health of their pregnancy. That’s a choice no one should ever be forced to make, and it’s why I have fought tirelessly to advance the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). “Guaranteeing pregnant workers the most reasonable of accommodations will erode pernicious discrimination against pregnant women, strengthen our economy, and keep women and children healthy and safe. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has twice passed a full House vote with robust bipartisan support. I urge the Senate to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act without delay, and I won’t stop fighting until this legislation gets signed into law.”
“Today, we rallied for the cause of pregnant workers and their right to receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Ensuring the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act gets a vote in the Senate is a public health and economic imperative,” said the Democratic Women’s Caucus Chairs, Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-NY), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). “It’s supported by faith organizations, maternal health groups, business associations, labor unions, and women’s and civil rights organizations. It’s also overwhelmingly bipartisan, passing the House nearly a year and a half ago on a vote of 315 to 101. Yet workers in America continue to suffer miscarriages because they can’t get a stool to sit on, light lifting restrictions, or a water bottle to drink from, even as other workers are granted these accommodations and more. It’s incredibly dangerous that 250,000 women each year are denied reasonable accommodations, and two-thirds of pregnant workers are losing their cases in court because of overly stringent standards. We are confident, if given the chance, PWFA will pass the Senate. We call on Senate leadership to pass PWFA without further delay so that President Biden can sign it into law before the end of the year.”
“It is unacceptable for pregnant workers to still be denied basic workplace accommodations that help them stay healthy during their pregnancy,” said Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA). “No one in this country should have to choose between financial security and a healthy pregnancy. We can and must do better for workers by passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This bill is based on a basic concept of fairness for pregnant workers, which is precisely why the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has broad support across the political spectrum and across our communities. It is imperative that we finally guarantee pregnant workers access to reasonable workplace accommodations.”
“Americans across the political and ideological spectrum recognize that the rights of pregnant workers are human rights,” said Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is commonsense legislation that is good for workers, good for businesses, and good for families. I urge the Senate to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act immediately.”
“No one should be forced to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy,” said Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL). “A lack of workplace accommodations for pregnancy harms the health of working women and holds them back in their careers, and it’s unacceptable that in 2022, we are still calling for the enactment of this broadly-supported, bipartisan bill. The Senate must act now to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act before the end of this year!”
“I am currently pregnant but I made the effort to come all the way from Louisiana to say: I’m disappointed and angry the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act wasn’t passed years ago. Listen to my voice. It has to happen now,” said Denizer Carter, a Louisiana-based mother and A Better Balance Community Advocate. “I was working as a grocery store cashier at the start of the pandemic… when I asked for light duty work, they let me go. As a frontline worker during the Covid 19 pandemic, I appreciate all the thanks from the politicians for my work. But actions speak louder than words.”
“I’m actually currently pregnant and expecting my second child. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my health and our family’s finances. It’s truly a joyous time that should never be spent stressing about where your next meal will come from or whether you’ll have to put your health on the line to keep your job,” said Takirah Woods, a New Jersey-based mother and A Better Balance Community Advocate.“The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a solution that Black women like me are counting on so we are able to thrive and are not held back by discrimination.”
“Let me explain to you what it means to be forced out of your job and lose your income while you are pregnant: It means not being able to feed your family. It means losing your health insurance. It means going to job interview after job interview knowing no one will hire you. It means falling behind on rent and almost losing your apartment,” said Armanda Legros, a mother and A Better Balance Community Advocate. “And now, even today 10 years later, it means still feeling the ripple effects of having to go 7 months without pay after being pushed out of my job on Long Island when I needed it the most. I still struggle with crushing interest payments and making my rent and supporting my kids.
“I’m speaking out for all the women out there who are like me and want to have a safe,
healthy pregnancy and to keep their paycheck. They deserve that right. They deserve the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” said Natasha Jackson, a South Carolina-based mother and A Better Balance Community Advocate. “We are not asking for a lot. We’re asking for water bottles, breaks from lifting heavy objects, breastfeeding breaks. We’re asking for equal treatment, dignity, and respect.”
“It’s time for Senator Schumer and Senate leadership to multitask like all moms do and bring the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to a vote,” said Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance. “As this country faces a grave maternal health crisis, formula shortages, rising cost of living and economic uncertainty, the PWFA is a major win that the Senate can and must deliver to protect the health and livelihoods of women and families right now. While we’ve seen so many priorities from paid leave to home health care fail this Congress, the PWFA could pass on the Senate floor tomorrow and would put an end to the second-class treatment of pregnant and postpartum workers in this country once and for all.”
“The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has the votes to pass, but what it doesn’t have is the time to wait,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, Director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. “It has been over forty years since Congress passed meaningful protections for pregnant workers facing routine discrimination and hardship, forcing many to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck. Senate leaders owe it to the working women of this country to end the needless delays and bring this bill to a vote now.”
“This election we saw the power of women’s voices and women’s votes,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President & CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is popular, common-sense, and an undeniable political win; but a vocal group of opponents could stop this bill from passing if Congress fails to take action this year. Women and families cannot afford to wait any longer.”
“The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is one of many solutions needed to address this despicable reality of maternal and infant mortality that impacts Black and Latina women at shamefully higher rates, as workplace accommodations can prevent dire complications such as preeclampsia, low birth weight, and miscarriage, said Stacey Brayboy, Senior Vice President of Public Polciy and Government Affairs for the March of Dimes. “And it is a solution that is ready for a vote right now. That’s why March of Dimes supports the bill. It’s a critical bipartisan solution in addressing the black maternal health crisis as they disproportionately work in low-income, physically demanding jobs and face intersecting forms of discrimination and barriers to receiving accommodations to a safe working environment.”
“The message from America’s moms is simple: We need the U.S. Senate to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act this month,” said Namatie Mansaray, Senior Director for Workplace Justice at MomsRising. “Moms deserve reasonable accommodations on the job, and all families – and expecting families in particular – deserve economic security. Nobody should have to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy, but too many people in our country – especially women of color and immigrant women – do. It’s time for Congress to change that.”
“One of the foundational teachings in Jewish tradition is sh’mirat haguf — literally, guarding the body. We’re taught that we are the best versions of ourselves by not only tending to the soul, but by tending to the needs of our whole person, the physical. When we prioritize the needs of our health, we prioritize our basic human dignity. And when our health needs are denied, that dignity is stripped away,” said Sheila Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women. “But many American pregnant workers have to choose between their dignity and their paycheck. Forced to stay in a job that doesn’t prioritize their physical health or to leave.”
“It is outrageous that pregnant workers can still be pushed off the job because they are pregnant in 2022. The stakes could not be higher for pregnant workers’ bodily autonomy, their health, and their ability to provide economic stability,” said Christian Nunes, President, National Organization for Women. “This is especially true for the most vulnerable communities, including people of color and immigrants, who are disproportionately impacted by the lack of protections in their jobs. The passing of this bill has been long overdue and we are looking forward to seeing it become law.”
“Georgia lacks state level protections for pregnant workers, where many states across our country have them. Our state is directly and immediately impacted by the passing of the Federal PWFA.” said Madison Scott, Policy and Research Manager, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia.
“As a representative of a people that puts family at the center and highly values fair and reasonable working conditions and compensation, I urge Majority Leader Schumer to bring the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to a floor vote in the Senate before the end of the year,” said Rabbi Eliana Fischel, Associate Rabbi at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. “Pregnant workers have gone too long fearing that they will need to choose between their pregnancy and their employment. We have made these workers wait for reasonable accommodations. Their working conditions, nor their wait for improvement, are not just, are not Jewish, and are not okay.”
A Better Balance
American Association of University Women
Center for WorkLife Law
Family Values @ Work
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Georgia
Justice for Migrant Women
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
March for Moms
March of Dimes
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Women’s Law Center
National WIC Association
Religious Action Center
US Chamber of Commerce