Brown works to pass legislation to protect pregnant workers

WASHINGTON, DC – In advance of Mother’s Day, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH, hosted a news conference call to discuss the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to protect pregnant workers and ensure employers accommodate their health on the job.

Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will be pregnant and employed at some point in their careers. But currently there are no legal requirements that employers provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and their health care needs. This leads to many women being forced out of their jobs, or forced to take unpaid leave before their child is born.

“No mother-to-be should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy,” said Brown. “We need to give women the peace of mind that their workplaces will give them reasonable accommodations to take care of their own health and the health of their baby. It will mean healthier pregnancies and healthier babies, and it will mean more women are able to continue providing for their families while they’re pregnant.”

Brown was joined on the call by Rena Shak, a central Ohio mother who worked as a government attorney in Columbus during her pregnancy, and faced obstacles on the job to following her doctor’s health recommendations.

“The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a critically important and common sense piece of legislation. Eight out of ten women in the United States have children. And women account for almost 50% of our workforce,” said Rena Shak. “Pregnancy and childbirth along with the multitude of resulting complications, is a part of life for so many American women, as is participating in the economy. Why wouldn’t we make the accommodations to keep our workforce safe and ensure continued access to employment equality?”

The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and would ensure pregnant workers who work for employers with 15 or more employees can receive reasonable accommodations that are often low-cost or no cost, such as additional bathroom breaks, light duty, or a stool to sit on if a worker stands all day, unless it would pose an undue hardship to the employer.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed the House of Representatives in September 2020 with a broad, bipartisan majority.

To support working mothers, Brown has also introduced the PUMP (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections) for Nursing Mothers Act, to expand workplace protections for breastfeeding mothers, and the FAMILY (Family and Medical Insurance Leave) Act, to provide workers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.

Brown has also led efforts to ensure pregnant mothers can access affordable health care during and after pregnancy, reintroducing the Healthy Maternal and Obstetric Medicine (Healthy MOM) Act in 2021. And his is an original co-sponsor of the “MOMNIBUS,” a package of 12 bills that would help reduce Black maternal mortality.