Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center

Zonta International is a global organization of women and men dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. With your help, we can make a difference. In addition to the actions below, click here to support our joint efforts with UNICEF USA to end child marriage in the United States.

Guarantee basic workplace protections for pregnant workers
As women increasingly become the primary breadwinners in American households, a growing number of pregnant workers are working later into their pregnancies to maintain their family’s financial security. According to the most recent data, 88% of first-time mothers worked during their last trimester.

Though it has been more than 40 years since the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, workers still face pregnancy discrimination, which can include losing a job, being denied a reasonable accommodation or not being hired in the first place. A recent survey found that 62% of workers have witnessed pregnancy discrimination on the job.

No one should be forced to choose between financial security and a healthy pregnancy. While many states have adopted laws requiring a reasonable accommodation, a patchwork of state and local laws leave many pregnant workers with no protection at all. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S.1486) is a bipartisan proposal that establishes a pregnant worker’s clear-cut right to reasonable accommodations, provided they do not impose an undue burden on their employer.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would establish that:

  • Private-sector employers with more than 15 employees, as well as public sector employers, must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions).
    • Like the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.
  • Pregnant workers cannot be denied employment opportunities, retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or forced to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.
  • Workers denied reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include lost pay, compensatory damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
    • Public sector employees have similar relief available under the Congressional Accountability Act, Title V of the United States Code, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991.

In a 2020 survey of voters across the country, 89% of voters support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, including 69% who strongly favor it. After passing the House in September 2020, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was reintroduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler [D-NY] in February 2021 and passed with bipartisan support on May 14. On April 29, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. [D-PA] introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to the Senate. Please use our pre-drafted letter to urge your senators to co-sponsor and support S. 1486. If they have already sponsored or co-sponsored the bill, you can send a message of thanks.

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