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House Passes Bonamici-Backed Bill to Protect Pregnant Workers from Discrimination and Job Loss

May 14, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC [05/14/21] Today the House passed bipartisan legislation championed by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee, to make sure that pregnant workers can access reasonable accommodations on the job without facing discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. 

“As a mom and a policymaker, I know how important it is to protect the health, well-being, and economic security of pregnant workers and their families,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Unfortunately, under current federal law, pregnant workers do not have access to reasonable workplace accommodations. When pregnant workers do not have access to the accommodations they need, they are at risk of jeopardizing their health and the health of their baby, losing their job, being denied a promotion, or not being hired in the first place.  

“It is unacceptable that in 2021, pregnant workers can still be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck. Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act more than four decades ago, but pregnant workers still suffer discrimination at an alarming rate. Megan, a manufacturing worker in Oregon, was forced to take unpaid leave after her employer denied her modest request for light duty three and a half months before her due date. Oregon has since passed a state version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, but pregnant workers across the country need fairness too.

“By clarifying the right of pregnant workers to reasonable accommodations on the job, we will finally give them the ability to work safely without fear of facing discrimination or retaliation.”

Bonamici spoke in support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, H.R. 1065, on the House floor. Video of her remarks can be found here.

According to the Center from American Progress, more than half of American households rely on a woman worker as the primary, sole, or co-breadwinner, and a growing number of women are working later into their pregnancies to maintain their family’s financial security. Women also comprise 64 percent of frontline workers, and pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In her floor speech Bonamici further noted that women of color are overrepresented in low-wage, physically demanding jobs and are therefore disproportionately harmed by a lack of access to reasonable accommodations.

Bonamici has been a champion in Congress for the needs of pregnant workers, and helped secure a strong bipartisan vote in the House for this legislation in 2020. That bill did not advance in the Senate. In January 2020, Bonamici spoke to CBS This Morning about the importance of addressing pregnancy discrimination.