Today, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was introduced in Congress, just as it was in 2012 and 2013—but this time, with a crucial difference. This time Republicans stood with Democrats in asserting that the time for fairness for pregnant workers has arrived. In addition to Congressman Nadler, Senator Casey, and Senator Shaheen, all longstanding Democratic champions for pregnant workers, Republican Senators Ayotte and Heller have lent their leadership and support to the bill. This is a big deal, as bipartisan efforts are few and far between these days, and a bipartisan bill is much more likely to move forward.
And bipartisan support for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act just makes sense. Last year, President Obama called on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act without delay, observing, “Back home, to folks sitting around the kitchen table, this isn’t partisan.” When it comes to fairness for pregnant workers, this is indisputably true. That’s why earlier this year every single Senator voted in favor of a budget amendment in support of a right to reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. It’s why in the past two years, states and cities across the country have passed their own laws guaranteeing fair treatment for pregnant workers, in New Jersey, West Virginia, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New York, North Dakota, and Nebraska, as well as in New York City, Providence, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the District of Columbia, with bipartisan and in many instances unanimous support. That’s also why polling shows more than 90 percent of voters believe employers should make reasonable accommodations [PDF] if a pregnant woman needs them. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act reflects the commonsense, common-ground principle that Congress recognized when passing the Americans with Disabilities Act with overwhelming bipartisan support 25 years ago: physical limitations that can be easily accommodated should not force anyone out of a job.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is gaining serious momentum, as members of Congress on both sides of the aisle recognize that it is time to stand up for pregnant workers.