Washington DC- Tonight, U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s budget amendment to establish new workplace rights for pregnant workers passed the Senate 100-0. The amendment was based upon the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bill, which was first introduced in 2012 and led by Casey and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), would protect pregnant workers from discrimination in the workplace. Specifically the bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations, like using a stool while working at a cash register or carrying a bottle of water, for pregnant women. The legislation also protects women from retribution when asking for these reasonable accommodations. Tonight’s unanimous vote is a major step forward for the legislation that would usher in a major reform to workplace rights and clear up any ambiguity from the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Young vs UPS.
"There aren’t many policies that 100 Senators can all agree on but tonight workplace protections for pregnant workers is one of them," Senator Casey said. "Tonight's unanimous vote has set the stage for Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into law. We now have the opportunity to make it clear that pregnant workers should never live in fear over requesting a reasonable accommodation during their pregnancy. This week's Supreme Court ruling in Young vs UPS underscores the need for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and tonight the Senate spoke with one voice about this major reform. I also want to highlight the substantial work and advocacy of Senator Shaheen on this proposal. She is a tireless advocate for the rights of women in the workplace."
Today, women make up nearly half of the labor force, and three-quarters of women entering the workforce will be pregnant and employed at some point in their careers. In Pennsylvania, approximately 96,000 women in the work force give birth each year, representing 65 percent of all births in the state.
Currently, pregnant working women around the country are being denied simple adjustments – permission to use a stool while working a cash register, or to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated, or temporary reassignment to lighter duty tasks – that would keep them working and supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The legislation will close legal loopholes and ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job.
Some states have passed laws like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to ensure that pregnant workers have on-the-job protections, but every pregnant worker deserves the same rights and protection under the law.