Neither the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) nor the ADA provide for accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace who can perform some but not all of their duties, since (1) the PDA only protects women who are pregnant but can perform their job duties or who cannot work at all and need leave, and (2) under the ADA pregnancy is not deemed a disability.
A bill sponsored by 108 members of the House (all Democrats) and now introduced in the Senate by Robert Casey of Pennsylvania -- the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”), would require “reasonable adjustment” – that is, it would prohibit employers from firing pregnant women or denying them accommodations so that they can continue to work, such as, for example, providing stools for cashiers.
Dr. Maureen Perry-Jenkins, a University of Massachusetts researcher, has conducted a study of low-income working families, and has told The National Women’s Law Center that she found that many women feet that they had no choice but to quit physically demanding jobs where their pregnancies no longer permitted them to stand for long periods of time, lift heavy objects or work very long shifts with no break. “They have no expectations that their employers would accommodate them at work and so they quit in their 6th, 7th or 8th month of pregnancy.”
The National Women’s Law Center has stated that “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a critical step toward fairer treatment for pregnant workers. It would provide clear protections to working women so that they can get accommodations that they need to continue working during their pregnancies.”
Sheila Bapat, at RH Reality Check, says that “ The current Congress may not pay any attention to the PWFA, but advocates should continue pushing for it at the federal and state level. The good news: several states already have PWFA-esque protections including California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Hawaii and Texas. These laws require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. California’s law has been used multiple times to help pregnant women keep their jobs.”
Fred Clark reports at Patheos that: “The PWFA would help to remove one powerful economic incentive for abortion — a real situation that real people face. Anti-abortion groups therefore ought to support it.” Interestingly, he notes, “if any of them are supporting it, they’re doing so very, very quietly.”