For the third time in the past year, I am blogging about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Because last week, Senators Murkowski (R-AK), Casey (D-PA), Cassidy (R-LA), Shaheen (D-NH), and Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the PWFA in the Senate. On September 17, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the PWFA in a 329-73 vote. But, you know, politics. So, here we are, with the Senate starting over, but fortunately not from scratch. The 2021 Senate bill is identical to the House version.
For those of you who need a refresher, here’s a description courtesy of the Senate HELP Committee:
The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and will ensure pregnant workers who work for employers with 15 or more employees can receive reasonable accommodations that are often low-cost or no cost, such as additional bathroom breaks, light duty, or a stool to sit on if a worker stands all day, unless it would pose an undue hardship to the employer. At a time when women workers and employers are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this legislation represents a balanced, responsible approach to keeping pregnant workers in the workplace when it is safe for them to keep working.
The legislation still has bipartisan support, and the endorsements range from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which issued this press release touting the bill.
Currently, businesses must adhere to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Young v. UPS. The Court held that, when accommodating pregnant workers, employers may treat them no less favorably than non-pregnant workers with similar inabilities to work. That’s a wonky standard that the PWFA will clarify.
A simpler federal rule for accommodating pregnant workers should also smooth out the differences in accommodation rules for multi-state employers.
And, folks, I’m sick of blogging about it about the PWFA. This is as close to a done deal as it can be.
Hopefully, this time, we cross the finish line.