Federal lawmakers recently voted to advance a bill that provides additional protections for pregnant workers.
The House Committee on Education and Labor Jan. 14 approved the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, designed to "eliminate discrimination and promote women's health and economic security by ensuring reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition."
The measure, which received bipartisan support among committee members, now goes to the full House.
It requires employers with 15 or more workers to make reasonable accommodations for job applicants and employees with physical limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or any medical condition that arises from those conditions.
Pregnant workers and those with limitations related to pregnancy or childbirth "cannot be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available," according to a statement from the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Reasonable accommodations can include additional bathroom breaks, providing a stool for the worker to sit on, limiting contact with certain chemicals, or reducing lifting requirements.
'Good Faith' Efforts
The accommodations cannot cause "an undue hardship" for the employer.
In fact, employers are not liable if they demonstrate "good faith efforts" during negotiations with an employee over reasonable accommodations.
Current federal law prohibits employers from firing or refusing to hire pregnant workers but does not require employers to make special work accommodations.
This new law provides those accommodations.
It has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Connecticut lawmakers passed a similar law in 2017, requiring employers to provide reasonable workplace accommodations for pregnant employees unless it imposes an undue hardship on the employer.