Today, after years of advocacy, Tennessee becomes the 30th state in the country to provide stronger legal protections for pregnant workers. A Better Balance has been proud to lead the fight on the ground in Tennessee to enact the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act over the past six years, working closely with a strong coalition of local and state partners as well as providing drafting and legal support.
This legislation helps pregnant women who need a temporary, reasonable accommodation—like a water bottle, a stool to sit on, or a temporary reprieve from heavy lifting—to remain healthy and working.
Passage of the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act ensures that pregnant workers in our state can continue to provide for their families when they need modest accommodations in the workplace. This legislation is one important step towards guaranteeing economic security for all families and reducing our state’s shameful racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. These protections come at a critical moment when many pregnant workers are navigating returning or continuing to work while protecting their health.
This progress also comes after the bravery of A Better Balance former client Tasha Murrell and her co-workers, who courageously shared their heartbreaking stories of pregnancy discrimination at a warehouse in Memphis, underscoring the urgent need for stronger protections.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2520/House Bill 2708 earlier this month with unanimous support and dozens of Republican and Democratic cosponsors. The legislation was actively supported by the state’s four Urban Chambers of Commerce—Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga—while the Tennessee Chamber and National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Tennessee took a neutral stance.
In a true testament to the power of cross-issue coalition work, we were supported by numerous labor, public health, business, and other advocacy organizations throughout this campaign. A Better Balance is grateful to our partners at Healthy and Free Tennessee, SisterReach, March of Dimes Tennessee, Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga, ThinkTennessee, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists-Tennessee Chapter, Tennessee AFL-CIO, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1995, Business and Professional Women of Tennessee, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Memphis Chamber, Chattanooga Area Chamber, and Knoxville Chamber, among others, for their advocacy on this important issue.