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U.S. House Passes Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

2020-10-08

Bill requires private employers with 15 or more employees to provide a reasonable accommodation to pregnant workers, unless it creates an undue hardship

In a vote of 329 to 73 the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act [H.R. 2694] was passed in the U.S. House.  The legislation was originally introduced in the House several years ago; however, recently received endorsement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of businesses. 

Even though existing law [The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act] appears to provide protection to pregnant workers, some courts have stated that to succeed a claim for pregnancy discrimination, the plaintiff needs to demonstrate that she was treated differently than other non-pregnant employees with similar limitations. If there are no comparable employees, there may not be a basis for claiming discriminatory treatment.   Currently there are no federal laws that explicitly guarantee all pregnancy workers the right to a reasonable accommodation so that they can continue working without jeopardizing their pregnancy.  Under existing law, pregnancy does not, per see, constitute a disability triggered the need for an accommodation. 

The current Bill would establish that:

  • Private employers with 15 or more employees cannot refuse to make “reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee” unless it creates an undue hardship on the employer.  
  • Pregnant workers 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.
  • Workers denied a reasonable accommodation will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII including lost pay, compensation damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of Workplace Dynamics LLC and is not being represented as being all-inclusive or complete. It has been abridged from legislation, administrative ruling, agency directives, and other information provided by the government. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.