Tell Lawmakers What it’s Like to be a Pregnant and/or Nursing Worker in PA

If you have been or are a pregnant or nursing worker in Pennsylvania, you have the opportunity to help change our state law for the better.

We need to hear from you about your experiences and challenges working while pregnant and/or nursing (expressing milk) in Pennsylvania, so that we can relay your stories to the lawmakers who will decide whether or not to increase protections.

On October 8, The Pennsylvania House Committee on Labor & Industry has scheduled hearings on two bills:

  • The Pennsylvania Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HB1176) would require covered employers to make reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions unless those accommodations would prove an undue hardship on the business.
  • The Sanitary Conditions for Nursing Mothers (HB1100) would help salaried women not covered by the Affordable Care Act and require their employers to provide break time and a private, sanitary space to express breast milk.

These hearings mean the lawmakers are listening. What do you want to tell them?

The background

Even with the federal Pregnant Discrimination Act on the books since 1978, pregnant women are not sufficiently protected from discrimination.

Individual pregnant workers may still face uncertainty about their rights in the specific contexts of their own workplaces. Pregnant workers’ rights also vary by zipcode. Here in Pennsylvania, certain workers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh currently have more protections against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace than elsewhere in the state–though that could change if the proposed bill passes into law.

The Pennsylvania Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require a covered employer to make reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions unless those accommodations would prove an undue hardship on the business.

“Pregnant women in Pennsylvania should not lose their jobs or suffer the consequences of working under conditions that put their health at risk because their employers deny their requests for reasonable accommodations,” said Amal Bass, staff attorney with the Women’s Law Project. “The Pennsylvania Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would protect these workers from having to choose between maintaining healthy pregnancies and keeping their jobs.”

We’ve heard of cases where an employer refuses to let a worker keep a water bottle behind a register, even though her doctor advised she needs to stay hydrated.  Simply put, pregnant workers shouldn’t have to choose between following her doctor’s orders and keeping her job if the issue is a matter of a temporary, minor accommodation.

Sanitary Conditions for Nursing Mothers is also “reasonable accommodation” legislation in that it would require certain employers to provide a private, sanitary space and break time for employees who need to express breast milk unless those accommodations would cause a small business undue hardship.

We hear from nursing workers who have been sent to dirty janitor’s closets or bathrooms to pump milk. At the Big Latch On,  we heard from women who felt they were forced to stop breastfeeding their child before they were ready because it was not possible to pump milk safely and privately at work.

How to submit written testimony

After you submit your testimony to us, we will file it with the Committee, so that lawmakers who need to hear what it’s like working while pregnant and nursing will hear your voices. (Now is a good time to remember that 82% of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly are men.)

We want to hear from you whether you had a good or bad experience as a pregnant or nursing worker in Pennsylvania. If you enjoy the better protections in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh—or are lucky enough to have an employer who was reasonable on their own—we want to hear about how important that was to you, your health and the health of your pregnancy or child. If you faced challenges obtaining reasonable accommodations while pregnant or nursing, we want to hear about that, too.

Submitting testimony is easy, and your remarks can be very brief.

Click here to see a template to help you format testimony in support of HB1100, Sanitary Conditions for Nursing Mothers.

Click here to see a template to help you format testimony in support of HB1176, the Pennsylvania Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Yes, you can submit testimony in support of both.

When you’re done, please send your testimony (as a Word attachment, or in the body of an email) to me at tmurtha@womenslawproject.org. Be sure to include a phone number.

The public hearing on these bills before the House Labor & Industry Committee on Thursday, October 8, at 10:00 AM in Harrisburg, in Room G-50 of the Irvis Office Building.

If you plan to submit testimony, please do so ASAP. We can however accept written testimony up until October 14.

 

 

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About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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