Dear Majority Leader Schumer,
As organizations that promote economic security, civil rights, public health, and gender and racial justice, we thank you for your stated support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S. 4431). As you consider the Senate’s priorities for the rest of the year, we urge you to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a standalone vote. If the bill does not receive a vote this Congress, it could be years before it passes, and millions of workers will continue to suffer discriminatory treatment and be denied the accommodations they need due to pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Time is running out.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) has long enjoyed bipartisan support and for months has had the votes to pass on the Senate floor. The time to act is now, before it is too late.
Securing critically needed accommodation protections for pregnant and postpartum workers—especially when women and families are facing so many barriers to their health and economic prosperity—is worth the time and must be prioritized.
Many pregnant and postpartum workers need modest workplace accommodations during pregnancy, such as more frequent bathroom breaks, temporary light duty work, or a private space for lactation needs. A recent report found that 3 million pregnant women—representing 70 percent of all pregnant women annually—work during their pregnancy each year. The PWFA will provide these workers with the right to reasonable accommodations to stay healthy and financially secure. Unfortunately, our current federal laws do not adequately protect pregnant workers. A stunning two-thirds of workers are losing their federal pregnancy accommodation claims in court.
This issue disproportionately harms Black and Latina women in low-paid, inflexible jobs, including frontline workers hailed as essential during the pandemic. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would provide critical relief by creating a clear standard, similar to the one established under the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with pregnancy-related limitations who need them, absent undue hardship. It will help keep pregnant and postpartum workers healthy while allowing them to remain in the workforce.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has broad support from the business community, a diverse coalition of advocates, and the public. Major business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Society for Human Resources Management, and the National Retail Federation, along with leading businesses, support the legislation, and over 200 women’s rights, worker’s rights, maternal health and racial justice organizations have endorsed PWFA. Protecting pregnant workers is an overwhelmingly popular issue for voters, with a recent poll showing 93% saying it is important for employers to guarantee accommodations to pregnant and post-partum workers, and nearly two-thirds of voters saying that Congress should work quickly to pass the bill into law.
The PWFA has twice passed out of the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support and the bill was voted out of the Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee last year on a strong 19-2 bipartisan vote.
You must act now to ensure that pregnant workers do not have to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. We urge you to prioritize the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and bring the bill to a standalone vote on the Senate floor this year.