Earlier this month I was thrilled to be present as the Delaware Senate unanimously voted in favor of S.B. 212 — the state’s version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). And yesterday the state House of Representatives followed suit in another unanimous vote on the bill. Once the Governor signs this landmark piece of legislation, Delaware will become the 13th state to provide for workplace accommodations for at least some pregnant workers.
Many women can continue working safely throughout their pregnancies, but some women find that at some point during pregnancy certain job activities — things like lifting, bending, or standing for long periods — can begin to pose a challenge. Many of these women could continue to work without risk to themselves or their pregnancies with slight job modifications. But too often employers deny pregnant workers such modifications, even if they would provide similar accommodations to workers with temporary disabilities — and force women to make an impossible choice between the health of their pregnancies and their jobs.
That is where Delaware’s PWFA bill comes in. It will ensure that pregnant women can continue to do their jobs and support their families by making it unmistakably clear that employers have to grant reasonable accommodations to women who are experiencing medical limitations as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship for the employer.
We at the National Women’s Law Center were honored to be able to play an active role in building support for the Delaware PWFA — including providing testimony at two hearings on the bill.
While the unanimous support for this bill in the Delaware legislature is certainly gratifying, it is not really that surprising at this point. In just the past two years a number of other states and cities have adopted similar protections for pregnant workers on bipartisan or even unanimous votes — places like Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, West Virginia, Philadelphia, and New York City. And a bill that received unanimous support in Illinois is currently just awaiting the Governor’s signature before it becomes law.
Now let’s hope Congress will notice this groundswell of support for ensuring that pregnant workers can stay on the job and earning vital income for their families — and will take the no-brainer step of making the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act the law for the whole country!