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End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers!

Background

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) would require employers to provide reasonable, temporary accommodations to pregnant workers so that they can remain in the workforce throughout their pregnancy. These accommodations could range from reassigning a worker to a desk job if her usual job requires heavy lifting, to allowing someone to carry a water bottle on the sales floor, to accommodating a person’s need for regular pre-natal medical visits.
Pregnant workers who do not have the protection of pregnancy accommodations face unpaid leave, lost benefits, or even termination, placing them in the agonizing position to choose between protecting the health of their pregnancy and continuing to work to support themselves and their families. Especially in the time before welcoming a new child to the family, it’s reprehensible that women are faced with this impossible choice.

Take action today; urge your Senators and Representative to cosponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.


Today more than ever, women depend on steady employment. A record 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family—nearly double the number from 40 years ago. Seventy percent of women with children under the age of eighteen work outside the home, and nearly 90 percent of women working full-time while pregnant choose to continue working into their last month of pregnancy. PWFA is also benefits business; enabling trained, skilled workers to remain in the workforce means that employers do not have to hire and train new employees to fill their place. 

In March, the Supreme Court issued a small victory for pregnant workers’ rights in Young v. United Parcel Service, yet PWFA is still as critical as ever. Even though the Court affirmed that current policy does not permit employers to treat pregnant women differently than other workers with similar limitations in the workplace, the decision also reminds us that existing law is not enough to ensure that all pregnant workers receive temporary and reasonable accommodations so they can stay in the workforce throughout their pregnancy. 

Jewish Values

Our Jewish tradition demands in the strongest possible terms the protection of all workers as a matter of justice. We are taught that “one who withholds an employee’s wages is as though he deprived him of his life” (Baba Metzia 112a). Pregnant workers who do not have the protection of pregnancy accommodations face wage withholding in the form of unpaid leave, lost benefits, or even firing—all as they are about to welcome a new child into the family. Our Jewish tradition compels us to not be complacent in the face of economic injustices, but instead to continue to advocate for policies that help to ensure economic stability for everyone in our society.

Our sacred texts speak to the importance and sacred nature of work—an opportunity to be co-creators with God. Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar, listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city had to offer to its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23). From this teaching, we learn that protecting health is not just an obligation for a patient and a doctor, but is instead a key service for a community to provide to its residents.

For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Tracy Wolf at 202-387-2800.