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AG Nessel Joins Coalition Urging U.S. Senate to Strengthen Protections for Pregnant Individuals and Families
December 29, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general from around the nation in calling on the U.S. Senate to protect pregnant individuals and families by passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA, which received bipartisan support from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this year, secures the rights of pregnant individuals to be provided reasonable accommodations at work without fear of being pushed out of their jobs.
"This legislation provides proper protections for pregnant workers who all too often face choosing between paying bills and ensuring a safe pregnancy," Nessel said. "I join my colleagues in urging the U.S. Senate to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. We must not stand for discrimination related to bringing a child into this world."
Currently, despite both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in place, pregnant workers are not fully protected under the law. Reasonable accommodations under the ADA are available only to qualified individuals living with disabilities, including those disabilities related to pregnancy. Reasonable accommodations can include, but are not limited to, sitting instead of standing, taking more regular breaks, and temporarily avoiding certain activities, like heavy lifting. Individuals in low-paying jobs are disproportionately people of color and those individuals 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, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the coalition strongly urges the Senate 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 PWFA - which is closely modeled after the ADA - 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.
Joining Attorneys General Nessel and James in sending today's letter to Senate leadership are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.