On September 19 Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S. 3565), a bill that would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and job applicants as well as those with limitations related to childbirth. Modeled after provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would institute certain anti-discrimination and retaliation protections for workers who request a reasonable accommodation related to their pregnancy, childbirth, or associated medical conditions, and prevent employers from requiring that a pregnant employee take leave if she could perform her job with a reasonable accommodation. The bill would also make it unlawful for an employer to require an applicant or employee affected by pregnancy or childbirth to accept a particular accommodation.
The same rights and remedies afforded by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act would apply to any violations of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Public sector employees would be given similar remedies available under related civil rights statutes. Finally, the measure would direct the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to issue regulations implementing the law within two years of the bill’s enactment.
In a press release, Sen. Casey said: “Pregnant workers face discrimination in the workplace every day, which is an inexcusable detriment to women and working families in Pennsylvania and across the country,” adding: “My bill will finally extend fairness to pregnant women so that they can continue to contribute to a productive economy while progressing through pregnancy in good health.”
A House version of this bill (H.R. 5647) was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on May 8, 2012. That bill has not advanced out of committee.