Speier co-authors bill to protect pregnant workers

Rep. Jackie Speier and three other lawmakers introduced a bill today that they say will ensure that pregnant women aren’t forced out of jobs unnecessarily or denied reasonable job modifications that would let them keep working.

Speier, D-Hillsborough, along with representatives Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.; and Susan Davis, D-San Diego, say that under current law, pregnant working women are being denied simple adjustments – things like permission to use a stool while working a cash register, or to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated, or temporary reassignment to lighter tasks – that could keep them supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies.

The lawmakers’ Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to make reasonable accommodations and bar them from forcing women out on leave when such an accommodation would let them keep working. It also would bar employers from denying jobs to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Jackie Speier“Women are not disposable workers who can be cast off if, and when, they are pregnant,” Speier said in a news release. “Welcoming women in the workforce also means women who are pregnant. They deserve the same treatment as any other employee who is in need of a temporary accommodation. I served in the California State Assembly during both of my pregnancies and understand the challenges that working women are confronted with during those nine months. In addition to the regular stresses that come with carrying a child, working women should not also fear losing their paycheck.”

Among the bill’s 63 original cosponsors is Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s ranking Democrat.

“Thanks to gaps in federal law, women have been denied the simplest accommodations and forced out of their jobs because they are pregnant,” Miller said in the release. “This bill closes those gaps and gives expecting mother’s some basic, long overdue protections in the workplace. Women are breadwinners, sometimes the sole breadwinners, for countless families. This bill is not just the morally right thing to do; it’s also good economics.”

The bill is backed by more than 100 civil rights and women’s advocacy organizations, unions, and business associations.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.