Lawmakers introduce bill to extend pregnant workers' protections, cite nursing home case

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Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would require employers to make reasonable job modifications for pregnant women. The lawmakers were motivated in part by the case of Victoria Serednyj, a nursing home activity director who lost her job while pregnant.

Serednyj was employed at the Beverly Golden Living nursing home in Valparaiso, IN, when she found out she was pregnant in 2007. Her doctor said she should only do light-duty work to prevent complications, but the nursing home denied her request for modified work and fired her. Serednyj filed a lawsuit.

In 2011, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling to dismiss Serednyj's claims, stating that pregnancy-related physical limitations are not covered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act would require employers to make reasonable modifications to a pregnant woman's job duties, such as assigning lighter duty tasks or allowing her to carry a bottle of water.

“Ensuring that a pregnant woman can receive minor and reasonable job accommodations to maintain a healthy pregnancy should be a no-brainer,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), one of the bill's sponsors. “The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is an essential clarification of our laws that underscores our society's support for pregnant women and their families.”

Other sponsors of the bill are Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).

The American Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union were among 138 organizations that signed a letter in support of the bill.
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