The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, House Bill 260, would protect women from workplace discrimination due to pregnancy or breastfeeding.
It also would require an employer to make reasonable accommodations, such as modified work duties for a pregnant woman, and to provide a place, other than a bathroom, to pump breast milk. Businesses that would face undue hardship in providing accommodations would be exempt.
There are not any such protections now. In fact, in Kentucky an employee’s right to smoke is more explicitly protected than her right to provide nutrition for her children upon returning to work.
Federal laws, which provide protections to certain employees, are at risk with possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
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Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, sponsored the bill. Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R.-Lexington, filed Senate Bill 172 as companion legislation. Last session, the same bill was gaining momentum and bipartisan support when an unrelated abortion amendment was attached to it, instantly killing it.
An estimated 35,000 of Kentucky’s working women gave birth within the last 12 months. Supporting them creates a healthier, more productive and committed workforce, reduces litigation and unemployment insurance costs, and improves the health of women and children. Passing this legislation is a no-brainer.
Whitney Z. Johns