newsnew legislation would provide safety accommodations for pregnant u s workers

New legislation would provide safety accommodations for pregnant U.S. workers

Rebecca Barnabi
pregnant woman
(© BGStock72 –

The National Partnership for Women & Families published a new report Monday on the number of American women working while pregnant.

According to the report, which comes on the 44th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), nearly 3 million pregnant workers would benefit from passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The legislation, according to a press release, would ensure that pregnant workers have the basic accommodations needed to have a healthy pregnancy and provide for themselves and their families. PDA provides protections to ensure women are not fired because they are pregnant.

“It is increasingly clear that current laws are failing pregnant workers when it comes to accessing the accommodations they need to stay on the job and healthy and return to work after their pregnancy,” Sharita Gruberg, Vice President for Economic Justice at the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in the press release. “From Walmart workers being denied access to the same accommodations workers injured on the job receive, to the recent case of a pregnant diabetic Walgreens employee being forced to quit hours before she miscarried. On top of the lack of adequate protections for pregnant workers, states across the country are further restricting access to abortion. After a decade of organizing and advocacy, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is closer than ever to becoming law. It is a workers’ rights, civil rights, maternal health, women’s rights and reproductive justice win.”

PWFA passed the U.S. House in early 2022 and needs more than 60 votes to pass the U.S. Senate. Without a national law, the press release stated, many of the nearly 3 million pregnant workers are forced to make a choice between a safe and healthy pregnancy or keeping their jobs because accommodations are not made such as sitting down instead of standing during their work shift.

Twenty states in the U.S. lack any statewide laws to guarantee the right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations. One million pregnant workers each year live in states that have no pregnancy accommodation laws.

According to the press release, nearly half of Native American and Alaska Native pregnant workers, four in 10 Black pregnant workers, nearly one quarter of Latina pregnant workers and nearly one in five Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander pregnant workers live in states without statewide pregnancy accommodations laws.

“The time is now,” Lelaine Bigelow, Vice President for Social Impact and Congressional Relations at the National Partnership, said in the press release. “If we don’t pass the PWFA now, all of our progress will be lost and pregnant people will need to start over with a new Congress while their economic security and health suffers.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.