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Video: Adams Stands Up for Pregnant Workers

Sep 17, 2020
Press Release
Rep. Adams delivers floor speech in support of the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, as well as chair of the House Education & Labor Committee Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, delivered remarks from the House floor in support of H.R. 2694, the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act. Adams is one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

The Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act passed the House this afternoon with bipartisan support.

“I’m pleased that the House is taking up the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act today, which will create a clear set of rules for employers to follow that require them to provide accommodations for pregnant workers to continue to work and support their families,” said Adams in her remarks. “Today, we are sending the message that nowhere in America should you have to worry about the health of your pregnancy because your employer won’t accommodate you! Today, we tell millions of Americans that pregnancy won’t prevent them from taking their dreams as far as they can take them!”

Additionally, Adams asked that a letter from organizations dedicated to ending this country's Black maternal health crisis be added to the Congressional Record.

Video of the speech is available here.

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).
    • Similar to 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 take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.
  • Workers denied a 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.

Full remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Over 40 years after the Pregnancy Discrimination Act provided civil rights protections to pregnant people, it’s shameful that we still must address this issue today.

Every year, roughly two-hundred-and-fifty thousand people in America are denied basic accommodations to continue their work once pregnant.

And when these simple, temporary adjustments in their work activities are denied, many face being fired or forced to take unpaid leave simply to protect their health and the health of their pregnancy.

This discrimination can take many forms, but its impacts can be deadly.

And of course, these burdens fall disproportionately on people and women of color, who are overrepresented in many of the low-wage jobs that are physically demanding, lack adequate workforce protections, or both.

This is also one of the key reasons why I founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood last year.

So, I’m pleased that the House is taking up the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act today, which will create a clear set of rules for employers to follow that require them to provide accommodations for pregnant workers to continue to work and support their families.

Today, we are sending the message that nowhere in America should you have to worry about the health of your pregnancy because your employer won’t accommodate you!

Today, we tell millions of Americans that pregnancy won’t prevent them from taking their dreams as far as they can take them!

I ask unanimous consent to insert into the record this letter from the from the Maternal Health Coalition, a group of public health professionals, clinicians, and maternal health organizations, outlining their support this legislation.

Congresswoman Alma Adams represents North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District (Charlotte) and serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. Additionally, she serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Education & Labor Committee, where she serves as Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. In 2019, Rep. Adams co-founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus with Rep. Lauren Underwood.

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