Grothman, Fitzgerald Oppose Bill Protecting Pregnant Workers
House votes 315-101 for it, with even Congressman Tom Tiffany voting yes.
Thirty states provide protections for pregnant workers who need basic accommodations in order to retain their jobs while staying healthy.
Wisconsin is not one of them.
The bipartisan compromise version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) passed on a vote of 315 to 101 in the House. All Wisconsin representatives voted for the bill — even far-right Republican Tom Tiffany — with the exceptions of Reps. Glenn Grothman and Scott Fitzgerald, who voted nay.
The text reads: “This bill prohibits employment practices that discriminate against making reasonable accommodations for qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”
More specifically, it makes it unlawful for an employer to fail to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees unless it would “impose an undue hardship on an entity’s business operation.” It also prohibits employers from taking any “adverse action” in terms of conditions or privileges.
Bloomberg Law has been tracking pregnancy discrimination lawsuits since 2016 when there were 235 federal pregnancy discrimination cases filed. That number has been increasing with a major jump in 2020 to nearly 400 cases. If 2021 continues apace, it would set another new record exceeding 400, Bloomberg Law projects.
A recent case that has received media attention is the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against Frontier Airlines, which a federal court allowed to move forward, denying Frontier’s motion to dismiss on July 14. The suit alleges that the company discriminated against pregnant and breastfeeding employees by disciplining them for pregnancy-related absences, refusing to allow mothers to pump breast milk on the job and requiring them to take unpaid leave in late pregnancy instead of moving them to ground work. (Frontier Airlines has said that the company does not comment on pending litigation.)
Groups ranging in perspective from the ACLU to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce back the bill protecting pregnant workers.
“This reality forces far too many people, often the sole breadwinners of families, to either lose income or put their pregnancy at risk – impacting low-wage workers, those in physically demanding jobs, and people of color the most. But the PWFA combats this, requiring employers to make those reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers without placing an undue burden on the business.”
The conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce professed “strong support” for the current compromise version of the bill in a letter sent to senators.
“Employers currently face great uncertainty about whether, and how, they are required to accommodate pregnant workers,” Chamber Vice President Neil L. Bradley wrote in a letter urging senators to sponsor the bill. “The PWFA would clarify an employer’s obligation to accommodate a pregnant employee or applicant with a known limitation that interferes with her ability to perform some essential functions of her position.”
Federal bill protecting pregnant workers advances, without Grothman, Fitzgerald was originally published by the Wisconsin Examiner.