Huffington Post: Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – What You Need to Know
January 6. 2023
Policy Director & Deputy Legal Director Jessica Ramey Stender is featured in Huffington Post today speaking about the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was signed into law Dec. 29. The bill was finally passed after many years of advocacy efforts. ERA has endorsed the bill for multiple years.
Jessica Stender, policy director and deputy legal director for Equal Rights Advocates, one of the organizations that lobbied for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, told HuffPost, “We really have seen this troubling trend that when a pregnant person — usually a woman — goes to their employer with what is often a very minimal accommodation request, the employer often essentially immediately denies the request without even engaging in any kind of dialogue to determine whether it is reasonable and feasible.”…
“This has been a 10-year fight to get these basic protections in place,” Stender told HuffPost…“The fact that it’s taken this long,” Stender said, “is really a sign of a lack of importance put on women in the workforce.”
The article also features quotes from ERA pregnancy discrimination client Candice Branner, and mentions the class action lawsuit where ERA represented her and 450 other San Francisco airport security workers.
Candice Branner, who worked as a transportation security officer at San Francisco International Airport, approached her supervisor with a doctor’s note when she was pregnant that requested modifications to her duties limiting her need to bend, lift or stand for long periods of time. Branner also requested the use of a cart to move around the airport.
“I was sent home that day,” Branner told HuffPost. “I never returned back to work.”
She explained, “It wasn’t really a dialogue, or ‘Come in and let’s talk about it’ or anything like that. It was like, one day I was at the airport and the next day I was gone.”
The loss of paid work came as a shock during a vulnerable time, Branner said.
“We were two young people working. For one person to go off work — you have these plans, because our child was planned, and something is messing up our plans. It was a very scary moment. An unsure moment. I went through a lot, just being at home, depressed, things like that.”
California does have a law protecting pregnant workers from being denied reasonable accommodations and being forced into unpaid leave in this way, and Branner and 41 other women won a $450,000 settlement from their employer in March 2021.