Advocates fighting for the rights of pregnant workers

NEW YORK (PIX11) – Fighting for the rights of pregnant workers, advocacy groups rallied outside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office in Midtown demanding reasonable accommodations be made when pregnant employees ask for them in the workplace.

It’s part of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill that Schumer has been an early supporter of and has the power to move across the finish line, but advocates claim it is taking too long.  

They say the accommodations are as simple as asking for a stool to sit on or being provided an extra bathroom break to ensure workers remain healthy on the job.

“We have just lost federal protections to the rights to the abortion,” Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW New York, said. “You better do everything in your power from morning to night to make sure that you protect pregnant women.”

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a federal bill that would grant these rights on a national level. New York State already has protections in place, but millions of women across the country do not.

“I will never forget the retail worker we heard from who was denied the ability to carry a water bottle on the retail floor and landed in the ER,” Dina Bakst, co-president of A Better Balance, said. “I will never forget the health care worker who was denied temporary light duty to prevent miscarriage and wound up homeless.”

Other reasonable accommodations include being provided a breast pumping station for privacy.

The groups say many workers who are denied these accommodations are women of color.

“These have overwhelmingly been Black and Latina women in low-wage and physically demanding jobs living paycheck to paycheck,” Bakst said.

Without the accommodations being met, they say pregnant people may not only experience negative health conditions but economic loss too. The bill would make it unlawful for employers to terminate a pregnant worker based on their accommodations requests.

The bill has strong bipartisan support, passing in the House twice and making it through the Senate HELP Committee. The advocates say all that needs to be done now is for Schumer to call the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

PIX11 News reached out to Schumer’s office for comment, and Angelo Roefaro with the office said in a statement:

“Senator Schumer is strongly supportive of this legislation to protect pregnant workers and is seeking to pass it as soon as possible.”