Earlier this month Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to the Senate floor. The proposed bill, which would supplement the Pregnancy Discrimination Act enacted by Congress in 1978, borrows the reasonable accommodation framework of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the bill would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Such accommodations could include providing stools for pregnant employees whose jobs require significant periods of standing, permitting pregnant workers to carry water bottles, modifying lifting requirements, or reassigning non-essential tasks. The bill would also prohibit employers from firing employees because of pregnancy or requiring them to take pregnancy leave.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act currently prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for being pregnant. Most employers–including those in Pennsylvania–are not, however, required to make an accommodation on account of an employee’s pregnancy. (A small handful of states, most notably California, have passed their own pregnancy-related disability laws.)
A companion bill was previously introduced in the House of Representatives in May but has made little advancement. We will keep you apprised of significant legislative developments through our blog.