What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

February 11th, 2020

Every year, working women become pregnant and experience extreme levels of discrimination on the job simply because they have a condition that may require temporary accommodations. To combat this reality, Congress has proposed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which hopes to eliminate problems faced by pregnant employees.

Beyond the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act passed as an amendment to the Civil Rights Act. Though the Pregnancy Discrimination Act made it illegal for employers to make hiring, firing, or health care decisions based on a woman’s current or potential pregnancy, the Act did not address on-the-job discrimination or accommodations. Therefore, companies that employed pregnant team members felt little obligation to offer them accommodating measures, such as being able to sit rather than stand at times, complete light-duty assignments temporarily, or take frequent restroom breaks. In other words, the Act pushed anti-discrimination forward, but not far enough for many advocacy groups.

Issue of Discrimination in the Workplace

A well-known Supreme Court case from 2015 brought the issue of discrimination in the workplace against pregnant women to the forefront. The case concluded the plaintiff, a pregnant worker who claimed discrimination against her employer, could not prove that she had not received appropriate accommodations. Essentially, the results of the case gave more power to the employer by stating that the employer did not have to make special accommodations to pregnant personnel if the accommodations were not made for non-pregnant staffers.

Since that 2015 case, two-thirds of lawsuits asserting worker discrimination based on pregnancy have favored employers. This leaves many discriminated women less likely to reach out to employment lawyers for fear that they will not win their cases. However, the PWFA gives more hope that this type of discriminating behavior will finally come to an end.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

To close the loopholes left open by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the PWFA includes specific regulations related to working pregnant women. Most of all, it outlines rules related to the accommodations that pregnant workers can expect under the law. The accommodations line up with those afforded to employees with disabilities, and they take away the need for pregnant workers and employers to have difficult conversations about what accommodating means. Pregnant employees should ask for accommodations as needed from their employers. Those who are denied basic needs by managers or human resources personnel may want to discuss their situation with a lawyer to help navigate the courts.

Philadelphia Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Protect the Rights of Pregnant Workers

If you were discriminated at work because of your pregnancy, contact the Philadelphia pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. We will fight for the justice you deserve. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and South Jersey.

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