Pregnant Worker Bill, Passed By General Assembly, Set To Become Law

Apr 7, 2021

Indiana has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.
Credit (Pixabay)

A bill telling pregnant workers they can ask for workplace accommodations without retaliation is one step away from becoming law after it passed a final vote in the General Assembly.

The legislation doesn’t require employers to provide accommodations, but says they must respond “within a reasonable time.” Critics say it’s a paper tiger: that’s already the reality for pregnant workers and it only gives lawmakers a self-serving win they don’t deserve.

Meanwhile federal laws have gaps pregnant workers seeking protections can fall through: A healthy pregnancy isn't classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and in order for women to claim pregnancy discrimination, they must prove the company accommodates other types of hardships. Thirty other states have issued laws that fill those gaps and provide clarity on employer's responsibilities to their workers.

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Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, authored a stronger bill last year that would’ve required employers to provide reasonable accommodations. He said based on the opposition he faced then, House Bill 1309 was the only realistic chance of getting anything around pregnant workers into Indiana code. 

“You may grow old, trying to get the bill that I did last year. Very old,” he said. “Or we can pass this [bill] and continue to work on making it better.”

All IN: The Fight For Guaranteed Pregnant Worker Accommodations

Business groups including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association supported this bill because they thought pregnant workers seeking accommodations would have too much power in negotiations with their employers, if backed by a law that required them to be granted.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has indicated that although the bill isn’t as strong as he wanted either, he will sign it into law when it is delivered to him.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.