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2020 Letter of Support for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

 

PWFA_OrgSignOn__Main_9.16.2020

September 14, 2020

Re. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Dear Member of Congress:

As organizations committed to promoting the health and economic security of our nation’s families, we urge you to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a crucial maternal and infant health measure. This bipartisan legislation promotes healthy pregnancies and economic security for pregnant women and their families and strengthens the economy.

In the last few decades, there has been a dramatic demographic shift in the workforce. Not only do women now make up almost half of the workforce, but there are more pregnant workers than ever before and they are working later into their pregnancies. The simple reality is that some of these women—especially those in physically demanding jobs—will have a medical need for a temporary job-related accommodation in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Yet, too often, instead of providing a pregnant worker with an accommodation, her employer will fire her or push her onto unpaid leave, depriving her of a paycheck and health insurance at a time when she needs them most.

Additionally, pregnancy discrimination affects women across race and ethnicity, but women of color and immigrants may be at particular risk. Latinas, Black women and immigrant women are more likely to hold certain inflexible and physically demanding jobs that can present specific challenges for pregnant workers, such as cashiers, home health aides, food service workers, and cleaners, making reasonable accommodations on the job even more important, and loss of wages and health insurance due to pregnancy discrimination especially challenging. American families and the American economy depend on women’s income: we cannot afford to force pregnant women out of work.

In 2015, in Young v. United Parcel Service, the Supreme Court held that a failure to make accommodations for pregnant workers with medical needs will sometimes violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA). Yet, even after Young, pregnant workers are still not getting the accommodations they need to stay safe and healthy on the job and employers lack clarity as to their obligations under the law. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will provide a clear, predictable rule: employers must provide reasonable accommodations for limitations arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless this would pose an undue hardship.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and offers employers and employees a familiar reasonable accommodation framework to follow. Under the ADA, workers with disabilities enjoy clear statutory protections and need not prove how other employees are treated in order to obtain necessary accommodations. Pregnant workers deserve the same clarity and streamlined process and should not have to ascertain how their employer treats others in order to understand their own accommodation rights, as the Supreme Court’s ruling currently requires.

Evidence from states and cities that have adopted laws similar to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act suggests that providing this clarity reduces lawsuits and, most importantly, helps ensure that women can obtain necessary reasonable accommodations in a timely manner, which keeps pregnant women healthy and earning an income when they need it most. No woman should have to choose between providing for her family and maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that all women working for covered employers would be protected.

The need for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is recognized across ideological and partisan lines. Thirty states and D.C. have adopted pregnant worker fairness measures with broad, and often unanimous, bipartisan support. Twenty-five of those laws have passed within the last seven years. These states include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Lawmakers have concluded that accommodating pregnant workers who need it is a measured approach grounded in family values and basic fairness.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is necessary because it promotes long-term economic security and workplace fairness. When accommodations allow pregnant women to continue to work, they can maintain income and seniority, while forced leave sets new mothers back with lost wages and missed advancement opportunities. When pregnant women are fired, not only do they and their families lose critical income, but they must fight extra hard to re-enter a job market that is especially brutal on the unemployed and on pregnant women.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is vital because it supports healthy pregnancies. The choice between risking a job and risking the health of a pregnancy is one no one should have to make. Women who cannot perform some aspects of their usual duties without risking their own health or the health of their pregnancy, but whose families cannot afford to lose their income, may continue working under dangerous conditions. There are health consequences to pushing women out of the workforce as well. Stress from job loss can increase the risk of having a premature baby and/or a baby with low birth weight. In addition, women who are not forced to use their leave during pregnancy may have more leave available to take following childbirth, which in turn facilitates breastfeeding, bonding with and caring for a new child, and recovering from childbirth.

For all of these reasons, we urge you to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

We also welcome the opportunity to provide you with additional information. For more details, please contact Dina Bakst (dbakst@abetterbalance.org), Emily Martin (emartin@nwlc.org), Vania Leveille (vleveille@aclu.org), or Michelle McGrain (mmcgrain@nationalpartnership.org).

 

Sincerely,

 

A Better Balance

American Civil Liberties Union

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Women’s Law Center

1,000 Days

9to5

9to5 California

9to5 Colorado

9to5 Georgia

9to5 Wisconsin

Advocates for Youth

AFL-CIO

African American Ministers In Action

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

All-Options

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Association of University Women, Indianapolis (AAUW)

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Breastfeeding Mother

Building Pathways

California Breastfeeding Coalition

California Women’s Law Center

California Work & Family Coalition

Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities

Center for American Progress

Center for Parental Leave Leadership

Center for Public Policy Priorities

Center for Reproductive Rights

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (United Workers Center)

Child Care Law Center

Child Welfare League of America

Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco)

Church World Service

Citizen Action of NY

CLASP

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues

Closing the Women’s Health Gap

Coalition on Human Needs

Coalition of Labor Union Women

Coalition of Labor Union Women, Philadelphia Chapter

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

DC Jobs with Justice

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)

Disciples Center for Public Witness

Economic Policy Institute

EMC Strategies

Equal Pay Today

Equal Rights Advocates

Family Equality

Family Values @ Work

Farmworker Justice

Feminist Majority Foundation

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Futures Without Violence

Gender Justice

Grassroots Maternal and Child Health Leadership Initiative

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

Healthy and Free Tennessee

Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia

Healthy Work Campaign, Center for Social Epidemiology

HER Development

Hoosier Action

Illuminate Colorado

In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

Indiana AFL-CIO

Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition

Indiana Catholic Conference

Indiana Chapter of Unite Here Local 23

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation

Indiana Institute for Working Families

Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council

Indianapolis Urban League

Indy Chamber

Interfaith Worker Justice

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)

Jewish Women International

Jobs With Justice

Justice for Migrant Women

Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc.

Kentucky Equal Justice Center

KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)

Labor Project

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Legal Aid at Work

Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund

Legal Voice

Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families

Main Street Alliance

Maine Women’s Lobby

Majaica, LLC

Make the Road New York

MANA, A National Latina Organization

March of Dimes

Marion County Commission on Youth, Inc.

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health

Metro-Detroit Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center

MOBB United for Social Change

MomsRising

Monroe County NOW

MS Black Women’s Roundtable

Mujeres Unidas y Activas

NAACP

NARAL Pro-Choice America

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Advocates for Pregnant Women

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Consumers League

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH)

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of Jewish Women – California

National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Employment Lawyers Association

National Health Law Program

National Immigration Law Center

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women and Families

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

National WIC Association

NC National Organization for Women (NC NOW)

Nebraska Appleseed

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New Working Majority

NJ Citizen Action; NJ Time to Care Coalition

North Carolina Justice Center

Oxfam America

PA NOW

Parent Voices CA

PathWays PA

PhilaPOSH

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Prevent Child Abuse NC

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Poligon Education Fund

PowHer New York

Pride at Work

Public Citizen

Quetzal

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

RESULTS

RI CLUW

San Francisco CLUW Chapter

Service Employees International Union

SEIU 32BJ

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)

SisterReach

Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Silver in the City (Indianapolis, IN)

Solutions for Breastfeeding

Southern CA Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health

Southwest Pennsylvania National Organization for Women

Southwest Women’s Law Center

TASH

Technology Concepts Group International, LLC

The Greenlining Institute

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Little Timmy Project

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network

The Zonta Club of Greater Queens

TIME’S UP Now

Ujima Inc: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community

UltraViolet

UnidosUS

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227

Union for Reform Judaism

United for Respect

United State of Women

United States Breastfeeding Committee

United Steelworkers

United Way of Kentucky

University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, Division of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences

Vision y Compromiso

Voices for Children in Nebraska

Voices for Progress

Warehouse Worker Resource Center

Western Center on Law and Poverty

William E. Morris Institute for Justice, Arizona

Women4Change

Women’s Achievement Network and Development Alliance

Women & Girls Foundation

Women Employed

Women of Reform Judaism

Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement

Women’s Employment Rights Clinic Golden Gate University

Women’s Foundation of California

Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga

Women’s Fund of Rhode Island

Women’s Law Project

Women’s March

Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network

Work Equity

Workers’ Center of Central New York

Worker Justice Center of New York

Worksafe

Workplace Fairness

YWCA Greater Cincinnati

YWCA Mahoning Valley

YWCA McLean County

YWCA New Hampshire

YWCA Northwestern Illinois

YWCA of Van Wert County

YWCA USA

ZERO TO THREE

 

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