A new bill has attracted bipartisan support in the United States House of Representatives. The bill addresses pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. The bill, introduced to the House on May 14, 2019, would help set the stage for new laws to provide further workplace protections to pregnant employees. Specifically, the bill provides further protections for women who become pregnant, give birth to a child, or suffer from pregnancy-related conditions.
Current Federal Law
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 is the current law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination. The PDA does protect pregnant women by preventing and prohibiting discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related medical conditions. However, the PDA does not include requirements for employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. In a way, the PDA leaves room for discrimination and the opportunity for employers to justify their actions.
NEW: Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
On the other hand, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), H.R. 2694 would work even harder at eliminating discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. The PWFA would require that employers provide reasonable workplace accommodations to women whose pregnancy-status limits their ability to perform the functions of their jobs. As a primary goal, the bill aims to eliminate discriminatory behavior towards pregnant women. Unlike the PDA, the PWFA no longer leaves room for employers to justify discriminatory behaviors. In fact, the PWFA would require that employers engage in an interactive process to find reasonable accommodations so pregnant employees can continue their work.
If enacted, the PWFA would help protect pregnant women in the workplace and make it unlawful for an entity to:
- not make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women, unless the entity demonstrates that the accommodation would impose undue hardship
- require job applicants or employees affected by pregnancy to accept accommodations that the individual chooses not to accept, so long as the accommodations suggested are unnecessary
- deny employment opportunities to an applicant based on the need to make reasonable accommodations for the pregnancy
- require an employee to take pregnancy-leave, if another reasonable accommodation can be provided
- retaliate against an employee in response to that employee requesting or using a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
On the state level, New Jersey has laws to protect pregnant women in the workplace. Specifically, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) includes pregnant women as a class of persons protected against discrimination. This law not only prohibits employers from firing employees based on their pregnancy status, but also further requires that employers engage in an interactive process to determine if they can provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees.
The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act has not been enacted into law yet. However, the bill has garnered more support over the years. This bill would help protect pregnant employees in the workplace on a federal level and prevent further discrimination. This is a step in the right direction to ensure pregnant women receive the treatment they deserve.
Pregnancy Discrimination Attorneys at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. Advocate on Behalf of Victims of Pregnancy Discrimination
If you have experienced pregnancy discrimination at your workplace, you are not alone. At McOmber & McOmber, P.C., we are dedicated to fighting against any form of discrimination in the workplace. The Pregnancy discrimination lawyers at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. can help you. Please call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, OR contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent all clients in Middletown, Cherry Hill, and throughout New Jersey.