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Attorney General Bonta Urges U.S. Senate to Strengthen Pregnancy Protections for Working Americans and Families

The PWFA would prevent employers nationwide from pushing pregnant workers out of their jobs over minor accommodation requests 

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Senate to strengthen pregnancy protections for working Americans and their families by passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). If passed, the PWFA would ensure pregnant workers have the right to reasonable accommodations at work without the fear of being pushed out of their jobs. In the letter, the coalition reaffirms the critical importance of removing barriers to workplace participation, particularly for pregnant people in low-wage and physically demanding jobs who routinely experience dire economic consequences when pushed out or terminated for requesting or needing accommodations.

“Plain and simple: A pregnancy shouldn’t be a barrier to someone’s ability to remain in the workforce in the 21st century,” said Attorney General Bonta. “California already has laws on the books to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and it’s time for Congress to follow suit. The fact is that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted workers of color across the nation and these protections are sorely needed. California unreservedly supports the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Respectfully, I urge the U.S. Senate to act now to protect the rights of working families all across America.”

Currently, pregnant workers are not fully protected under federal law and are not guaranteed access to certain reasonable accommodations, which can include basic measures like allowing someone to sit instead of stand, additional breaks, and temporarily avoiding certain activities, like heavy lifting. Individuals in low-paying jobs are disproportionately people of color who are also more likely to be denied reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy due to the culture and demands of low-paying workplaces.

In the letter to U.S. Senate leadership, the coalition strongly urges the Senate to pass the PFWA because it is needed to prevent pregnant workers from being forced out of their jobs or forced into taking unwanted leave. The bill, if passed, would prevent employers nationwide from pushing pregnant workers out of their jobs. The PWFA — which is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act — would prohibit employment practices that discriminate against employees making requests for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, and would make it clear to both workers and employers what rights and obligations need to be fulfilled under the law. Additionally, the bill would not require a pregnant employee to prove that another employee in a similar situation had also received accommodations in order to obtain their own accommodation. 

In sending the letter, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. 

A copy of the letter is available here.