Pregnant workers’ right to reasonable accommodation should be guaranteed by law, says ABA House
August 10, 2021, 1:55 p.m. CDT
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At the ABA Hybrid annual meeting on Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved a measure to protect pregnant workers with an overwhelming majority.
Resolution 511 urges Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act or similar law that guarantees pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodation so that they can continue to work without endangering their health as long as it does not unduly burden their employers.
The resolution, jointly sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division and the Commission on Disability Rights, calls for legislation to prohibit employers from denying employment opportunities to pregnant workers, taking revenge or taking adverse action because of their need for reasonable precautions . She also calls for the measure to prevent employers from taking paid or unpaid leave to pregnant workers when they are adequately accommodated.
Daiquiri Steele, a representative of the Young Lawyers Division in the House of Representatives, presented the resolution. She said many pregnant workers are at significant risk from lack of access to decent accommodation, such as a stool to sit on or frequent toilet breaks.
“These risks are particularly acute for black and Latinx workers who are over-represented in low-wage, inflexible, and physically demanding jobs,” added Steele. “Such legislation not only takes steps to eradicate discrimination, it also promotes women’s health, fetus and child health, and economic security by providing shelter for those workers whose ability to perform their job functions through pregnancy, Childbirth or a related illness is restricted. “
Follow the report of the ABA Journal about the ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting 2021 here.
While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act provide some protection to pregnant workers, none of the laws give them the express right to reasonable accommodation to help them stay healthy during their pregnancy.
Data from the National Partnership for Women & Families, cited in the report accompanying the resolution, shows that nearly 31,000 pregnancy discrimination charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission and State Fair Employment Practices Agency between October 2010 and September 2015.
In just one year, between October 2014 and September 2015, women filed more than 650 charges denying them reasonable accommodation while pregnant.
Christopher Jennison, a delegate from the Maryland State Bar Association and spokesman for the Young Lawyers Division, also spoke out in favor of the resolution.
He told the stories of an activity manager, retail worker, and hardware fitter who were all fired after asking for reasonable accommodation. He also told the House that his wife, Josephine Bahn, the YLD secretary, was concerned about taking vacation in the third trimester of her pregnancy or working from home to put her legs up.
“Improved protection for pregnant workers not only encourages employers to accept pregnant women, but also enables and empowers those pregnant workers to protect their own health and safety,” said Jennison. “If my lawyer was afraid to speak up, how many other women think the same way?”
US MP Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York, introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in 2012. The latest version of the law, which Nadler reintroduced in February, aims to “eliminate discrimination and promote the health and economic security of women through adequate guarantees”. Workplace accommodation for employees whose ability to carry out a professional activity is restricted by pregnancy, childbirth or a related illness. “
After the House of Representatives passed the bill in May, it went to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The committee brought it up on August 3rd.
In September, 30 states, the District of Columbia and four cities also required employers to provide reasonable accommodation to pregnant workers, according to additional data from the National Partnership for Women and Families included in the report.
Resolution 511 also calls on Congress to include in the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act or similar legislation the same remedies for pregnant workers as those provided in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Compensation and reasonable legal fees.
The ABA has long been committed to preventing discrimination based on classifications such as race, gender, national origin, disability, age and sexual orientation.
Among its most recent efforts, the House of Representatives passed a resolution in 2019 calling on Congress to pass legislation that specifically guarantees that “discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity / expression, gender stereotyping, or pregnancy is gender-based discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is banned ”. and other federal laws. “