Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in introducing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This critical legislation would ensure pregnant women are not unnecessarily forced out of jobs or denied reasonable job modifications during pregnancy. Currently,  pregnant workers are being denied simple adjustments, such as permission to use a stool while working a cash register or to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated,  that would keep them working and supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The legislation will close legal loopholes and ensure pregnant women are treated fairly on the job.

“No working woman should have to make a choice between a healthy pregnancy and her job,” said Senator Murray, an original cosponsor of the legislation. “Unfortunately, far too many women in America are faced with this decision each and every day. In addition to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, and the Healthy Families Act are long overdue fixes I wholeheartedly support to fill the gaps in our workplaces and help provide a more level playing field for working women.”

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and prevents employers from forcing women out on leave. The bill also bars employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

In recent and startling examples, Amy Crosby, a hospital cleaner in Tallahassee, Florida, was forced into unpaid leave from her job when the hospital refused to accommodate her doctor’s request that she not lift more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy; Heather Wiseman, a retail worker in Salina, Kansas, was fired because she needed to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated and prevent bladder infections; and Victoria Serednyj, an activity director at a nursing home in Valparaiso, Indiana, was terminated because she required help with some physically strenuous aspects of her job to prevent having another miscarriage.

The federal legislation has the support of a broad coalition of civil rights and women’s advocacy organizations, unions, and business associations, including: A Better Balance; AFL-CIO; American Association of University Women; American Civil Liberties Union; American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; California Women’s Law Center; Equal Rights Advocates; Hadassah; Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center; Legal Momentum; Main Street Alliance; National Partnership for Women & Families; National Organization for Women Foundation; National Women’s Law Center; and many others.