Pregnancy, nursing discrimination protections added to omnibus bill: Why that’s important in Alabama

Shortly before passing the $1.7 trillion total spending bill, U.S. senators voted to add an amendment that could expand protections for pregnant and breastfeeding employees nationwide.

BOTH AMENDMENTS — Updates to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act introduced by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and for nursing mothers The Provision of Emergency Maternal Protection Act (PUMP Act) has been introduced. By Senators Jeff Markley (D-Oregon) and Lisa Markowski (R-Alaska) — with support from both sides of the aisle. The blanket bill passed by the House on Friday is now at the desk of President Joe Biden.

Expanding federal protections for pregnant and post-pregnant workers is critical in Alabama.

This state is one of four states in the United States that does not have state-specific protections for pregnant workers.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Alabama is also one of 19 states that do not have state-by-state protections for breastfeeding rights in the workplace.

Staff members of A Better Balance, a national 501(c)3 advocacy group focused on worker justice, have been advocating for more legal protections for pregnant women for years.

“Currently, Alabama does not have state-level legal protections to support pregnant workers in the workplace,” Vice President Elizabeth Gedmark wrote in a statement to

“The passage of the Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act for Women and Families in Alabama means that women at work or during pregnancy simply because reasonable accommodations such as access to water or transportation are required It means you don’t have to choose between pay and health: work.”

The Maternity Workers Fairness Act, passed by Senate 73-24, not only provides “reasonable accommodation” for pregnant employees, but also allows employers to give employees paid It is prohibited to request leave or unpaid leave.

“If a woman is pregnant at work, she can do her job and have a healthy and safe pregnancy,” Casey said Thursday. “This bill does just that.”

Earlier in December, Cassidy said many states had certain protections in place, but no state was without protection for millions of American women.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended Section 701 of the Civil Rights Act, has legally protected employees from “sex discrimination based on pregnancy.”

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers with at least 15 workers must treat pregnant employees the same as other temporarily disabled employees.

Pregnant workers may receive certain benefits, such as light work or modified work, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides a potential accommodation for workers whose pregnancy impairs their ability to perform their jobs.

Pregnancy itself does not qualify as a disability under the ADA, but pregnancy-related complications, such as developing gestational diabetes, may qualify.

However, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for “known limitations associated with pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” and requests changes to pregnancy. It is also prohibited to retaliate against workers inside the company.

Between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, 13,668 complaints of pregnancy discrimination were received by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The PUMP Act, passed by Senate 92-5, expands the provisions for breastfeeding workers in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Under the 2010 law, the FSLA now provides milking breaks for certain workers in businesses with 50 or more employees. FSLA provisions only apply to workers who are not exempt from the section they are placed in, but a large number of employees, such as many salaried workers, were not included in the protection.

Read a joint report by A Better Balance, the ACLU, and the American Breastfeeding Board in support of the PUMP Act, which says the 2010 law was groundbreaking, but many mothers lack clear protections. There was a gap.

“Unfortunately, the placement of the 2010 Rest Hours Act as part of the FLSA that establishes overtime means that nearly nine million women (nearly one in four women of childbearing age) are out of scope. excluded, meaning there was no express right to interrupt the time and space of milking milk under federal law,” the report reads.

The PUMP Act expands rest and retaliation protections to cover not only salaried workers, but other workers who may have been previously exempt.

“The health benefits of breastfeeding are unquestionable. What is at stake is the protection of women in the field to express milk safely,” Murkowski said in a press release after the passage of the amendment. MP wrote.

“If a mother chooses to breastfeed her baby, she deserves the legal protection to do so without worrying about affecting her career.”

Women’s rights advocates in Alabama are celebrating the passage of both bills.

Rachel Banning, vice president of foreign affairs at the Alabama Women’s Foundation, said, “The overwhelming bipartisan passage of the Pregnant Workers Equity and Pump Act will continue to support women and families across the country, and women here in Alabama. And a win for the family.

“The coalition of legislators, the business community and the various advocates who made this moment possible have set clear standards for the New Year. Women’s economic security must never be hindered. The Women’s Foundation of Alabama is committed to building on this momentum, advocating for the strengthening of economic opportunities for all women in the new four years. looking forward to it.”

The Comprehensive Bill has now passed both houses and is awaiting the president’s signature. President Biden said he will sign the bill once it is in his hands.

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