The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is an Act intended to ensure “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 Huffington Post describes the types of women that could be helped by this legislation:
The National Women’s Law Center describes these and a few other cases of pregnant women struggling to continue working while pregnant.
The Huffington Post explains that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 makes it illegal to fire a woman just for being pregnant. That doesn’t mean, however, that employers must accommodate a woman’s pregnancy-related needs. The PWFA looks to correct that.
Politicians that oppose the PWFA argue that it would place unnecessary burdens on businesses. For example, businesses would have to find ways to accommodate pregnant employees whose jobs include a lot of physical activity, such as repetitive motions or lifting heavy objects.
It’s worth noting, though, that the PWFA does not apply if “the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.” (In this context, “undue hardship” is based on the definition used in the Americans with Disabilities Act.)
It’s also worth noting that several states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Alaska, Texas, Illinois, and California) already have legislation that calls for accommodating pregnant workers. According to Time magazine, California passed legislation in 2000 that guarantees pregnant women the right to job-protected leave and to be transferred to another position if medically necessary. Since then, California’s pregnancy discrimination cases have dropped (currently averaging at just two cases per year). For reference, federal pregnancy discrimination cases have increased by 54% in the same time period.
I guess it comes down to a question of priorities, doesn’t it? Is it more important to empower businesses to grow and profit? Or is it more important to empower pregnant women to continue earning a living while pregnant? Are there ways to empower each without hindering the other? What do you think?