Wisconsin Public Radio
October 28th, 2013
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Pictured: 9to5 WI State Director, Dana Schultz, speaks at a press conference at the State Capitol about pregnancy fairness for employees.
A state lawmaker is introducing legislation that would prevent employers from discriminating against workers who are pregnant, saying that federal laws don’t go far enough.
The “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” is being introduced by Democratic state Rep. Eric Genrich, from Green Bay’s 90th Assembly District.
He says federal law already bans employers from firing or refusing to hire a pregnant woman. But, he says, it doesn’t regulate treatment of women who become pregnant while on the job. He says it can be a big issue, especially if the woman has a physically demanding job.
The proposed state law would require employers to make provisions so a woman could continue to work. Genrich says it would also expose employers to legal action, within reason. “There is a provision in the bill that allows employers to be exempt if they can prove that these accommodations would cause an undue hardship on their business,” Genrich says, “and that mirrors provisions in current federal law on pregnancy discrimination, and also mirrors state law on some discrimination statutes.”
The proposed legislation is supported by 9to5 Wisconsin. Dana Schultz, state director of 9to5, says that women are often forced to take unpaid leave when pregnancy makes it difficult to work. “In the past couple of years, due to the economic downturn there’s been an estimated 35 percent increase in pregnancy discrimination cases.”
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act hasn’t yet been assigned to an Assembly committee. It also includes provisions regulating the treatment of nursing mothers who return to work.
By Patty Murray, WPR