Connecticut’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives has almost uniformly signed on to a bill intended to increase protections to expectant mothers in the workplace. All but one member of the House from Connecticut co-sponsored the measure.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, H.R. 2654, was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Young vs. UPS. In that case, the majority decision held that former employee Peggy Young was discriminated against when she was denied accommodations the United Parcel Service offered other workers.
After she became pregnant, Young was told by her doctor that she could not lift heavy parcels and was subsequently fired for complying with her doctor’s orders even though workers on disability were allowed similar, temporary shifts in responsibility to accommodate medical issues.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require employers to treat pregnant employees with the same considerations offered in Americans Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. UPS, still leaves millions of pregnant workers unsure of their rights,” Nadler said in a release. “It doesn’t need to be this complicated. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act creates a simple, clear standard for every employer and is based on decades of case law. I am proud to stand here today with my colleagues from the Senate and reintroduce this critical legislation with bipartisan support to ensure that no woman has to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck.”
The list of co-sponsors of the bill is a long one. There are, at last count, 110 co-sponsors in the House, a full 25 percent of the total U.S. House membership, among them every member Connecticut except U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District.
“In 2015, women are the primary breadwinners in many U.S. households and families rely on that income to survive,” Michael Macleod-Ball, acting director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, said in a release issued by Nadler. “Congress should recognize that the law must keep pace with the times.”
It should be noted that the Senate version of the bill, S. 1512, from Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., has netted a total of three co-sponsors, none of whom are from Connecticut.
DeLauro Seeks to Close a Nutrition Gap
Supplemental nutritional assistance under WIC ends at age 5. It is assumed that, at that point, a child will receive free- or reduced-price lunch.
“However many children do not enter school until well after their fifth birthday,” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said in a release.
The Wise Investment in our Children (WIC) act, H.R. 2660, expands the WIC program through age 6, until the other provisions of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 take over.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, was created as a two-year pilot program and added as an addendum to the Child Nutrition Act on September 26, 1972, following legislation sponsored by Sen. Hubert Humphrey, a Democrat from Minnesota.
At that time, children were eligible only up to age 4. On October 7, 1975, WIC was made permanent and eligibility was expanded for children up to age 5. The school lunch program provides breakfast and lunch for low-income children in school, but as DeLauro pointed out many children do not enter school until age 6.
The WIC Act of 2015 would “close that gap and ensure children have a strong health and nutrition foundation,” DeLauro said. “No child should be placed at a nutritional disadvantage simply because of when their birthdate falls.”
In order to be eligible for services under WIC, a family must be earn below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines, or $44,862 for a family of four.
Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.
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