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Proposal would prevent employers from discriminating against pregnant workers

There is a federal law that protects pregnant women against hiring and firing discrimination, but Green Bay Representative Eric Genrich says it doesn't go far enough.
WISCONSIN (WFRV) - A proposal from an area lawmaker would prevent employers from discriminating against workers who are pregnant.

There is a federal law that protects pregnant women against hiring and firing discrimination in the workplace, but Green Bay Representative Eric Genrich says it has a lot of gaps.

"There are no explicit accommodations required under federal law or state law," he explained. "So if a woman needs something to sit down on occasionally or access to water those sorts of things."

That's why the democrat is introducing legislation that would require employers to make certain provisions so pregnant women can continue to work. Things like more frequent breaks and lifting restrictions.

"Our bill would also prevent employers from forcing women out of the workplace when pregnant," Rep. Genrich said. "which is also something that we see occasionally."

The proposal was prompted by passages of similar laws in other states. It's a move the women's organization, 9to5 Wisconsin, is applauding.

"Two-thirds of women who had their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy and almost 90 percent worked into their third trimester in Wisconsin," said 9to5 State Director Dana Schultz. "So we're seeing women work through their pregnancies and come back to work more than ever because their paycheck matters more than ever in this economy."

Schultz said  the national number of pregnancy discrimination cases filed over the past five years is up 35 percent. She calls this common sense legislation.

"Women are really just looking for equal treatment and being able to accommodate in the last weeks of pregnancy," she said.

"Just trying to provide certainty for employers," added Rep. Genrich. "Security for employees to make sure that working women can stay in the workplace and support their families."

There is a provision in the bill that allows employers to be exempt if they can prove these accommodations would cause an undue hardship on their business.

The bill still needs to be taken up by a committee before it's put to a vote in the assembly.

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