Dear Chair Burrows,
No worker should be forced to choose between earning a paycheck, and a healthy pregnancy or safe recovery from childbirth.
I join with A Better Balance and the community of workers who fought tirelessly for the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act over the last ten years to strongly support the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) proposed regulations.
These proposed regulations offer important explanation and clarity to workers like me. They will help make the rights guaranteed by the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act a reality for those who are depending on them, including me or someone I care about, and ensure long overdue fairness, dignity, and equality under the law.
Before the law was passed, when pregnant workers requested a change at work, like a stool to sit on, access to water or rest breaks, or light duty, they were fired or pushed off the job, robbed of critical income, and forced into lasting economic disadvantage. Others were forced to keep working without needed accommodations--compromising their health and the health of their pregnancy.
Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which is now in effect, to fix this injustice by creating a right to reasonable accommodations for pregnant and postpartum workers (and workers affected by other pregnancy-related conditions). The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act ensures pregnant and postpartum workers can remain healthy and able to stay in the workforce. This will help to address this country's maternal and infant health crisis, which is disproportionately impacting Black women and infants.
The proposed regulations clearly explain the scope of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. For example, the EEOC's proposed regulations appropriately recognize that an employee is still "qualified" for their job even if they need some of their job duties excused while pregnant, postpartum, or for related conditions. The proposed regulations also appropriately recognize that leave may be a reasonable accommodation, including intermittent time off for pre-natal and post-natal health care appointments, post-partum depression, and to recover from childbirth.
Finally, the proposed regulations protect workers who experience a wide range of conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, including lactation, fertility, miscarriage, and abortion. These conditions have long been recognized as pregnancy-related conditions under current law. I urge the EEOC to keep these protections in its final rule.
I thank you for your efforts to protect the health and economic security of workers and their families, and I appreciate your acknowledgement of my comment in support of the proposed regulations.