Rep. Katko & Bipartisan Group Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Pregnant Workers from Workplace Discrimination

February 18, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. John Katko (R, NY-24) today announced the reintroduction of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, legislation that would protect pregnant workers from workplace discrimination. Rep. Katko introduced the bipartisan measure alongside U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D, NY-10), Lucy McBath (D, GA-6), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R, WA-3), and Bobby Scott (D, VA-3).

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would address legal ambiguities and help ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job. The legislation, which is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), would require employers to make reasonable accommodations—such as a minor job modification—that would allow pregnant workers to continue working and prevent them from being forced on leave or out of their jobs. The bill also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

"Simply put, no mother or mother-to-be in this country should have to choose between being a parent and keeping their job. Unfortunately, current federal law lacks adequate protections to ensure pregnant workers are able to remain healthy in the workplace,” said Rep. Katko. “This bipartisan effort puts in place a uniform, fair and familiar framework for employers and will enable women to keep working safely and provide for their families throughout pregnancy."

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has broad support from more than 200 worker advocacy, civil rights, and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Specifically, under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act:

  • Private sector employers with more than 15 employees as well as public sector employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions). Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.
  • 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 under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Public sector employees have similar relief available under the Congressional Accountability Act, Title V of the United States Code, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991.