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Continuing the Call for Pregnant Workers’ Rights

Continuing the Call for Pregnant Workers’ Rights

In June, we applauded the reintroduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, or PWFA (S. 1512/H.R. 2654), which gained bipartisan support for the first time since it was originally introduced in 2012. When the bill was reintroduced in June, only the Senate version of the bill was bipartisan—but now, the House bill is bipartisan as well!

Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO-06) joined the House bill as its first Republican co-sponsor. In the Senate, Senators Ayotte (R-NH) and Heller (R-NV) joined Senators Casey (D-PA) and Shaheen (D-NH) as lead sponsors, helping to lead the way in support of pregnant workers. This bicameral, bipartisan co-sponsorship is significant progress, meaning PWFA has a much stronger chance of moving forward in this Congress.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees’ health needs while on the job—if the employer can do so without undue hardship—allowing pregnant workers to continue to work to earn much-needed wages and benefits. These accommodations could range from reassigning a worker to a desk job if her usual job requires heavy lifting, to allowing someone to carry a water bottle on the sales floor, to accommodating a person’s need for regular pre-natal medical visits. All these accommodations are to ensure that no worker has to choose between protecting the health of her pregnancy and continuing to earn wages and benefits. Especially in the time before welcoming a new child to the family, it’s reprehensible that women are faced with this impossible choice between risking her health and earning her wages.

PWFA’s new, bipartisan support in both the House is an exciting step forward for pregnant workers’ rights, yet it does not mean our work advocating for the bill is done. Protecting and respecting the health and the dignity of pregnant workers is an expression of our Jewish values—of our commitment to treating workers justly and to working as a community to ensure the health of every individual. Now more than ever, we must continue the forward momentum to ensure that PWFA not just advances, but passes and becomes law, so that pregnant workers across the country have the economic and health protections they need. Take action today to urge your Senators and Representative to co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act!

Published: 7/21/2015

Categories: Social Justice