WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed crucial legislation to ensure pregnant workers are protected in the workplace and receive the support they need to stay healthy while remaining in the workforce. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant people and would help ensure workers don’t face discrimination or retaliation based on pregnancy-related needs.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“We thank members of the House for passing this critical legislation with broad bipartisan support — there’s no excuse for continuing to ignore the needs of pregnant workers and deepening gender, racial, and economic disparities. Often, pregnant workers only need a chair, a bathroom break, or standard personal protective equipment to maintain a healthy pregnancy while doing their job. It is no coincidence that the workers denied these simple accommodations are likely to be Black, Latinx, and/or from immigrant communities — this lack of protection is part of the structural racism that has created a Black maternal mortality crisis in this country. No one should ever have to choose between their pregnancy and their job. The Senate must pass this legislation without delay.”
Black and Latino workers make up a disproportionate number of employees with physically demanding jobs and the burden placed on them — standing for hours, inconsistent work schedules, or heavy lifting — can lead to quitting their jobs, being laid off, and putting their health at risk. Women represent more than 60% of essential workers, with people of color serving as 41% of frontline workers. Many of them are the main source of economic stability for their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the importance of personal safety for pregnant people in the workplace.
In the United States, Black women are more than three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women. These unnecessary deaths occur because of systemic racism, a lack of access to care, biases held by medical staff, and general mistreatment across all environments, including the workplace.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.