By: Emily Werth, FellowPosted on May 12, 2014 Issues: Pregnancy, Parenting & the Workplace

Last week, Delaware joined the rapidly growing list of states that are considering legislation to ensure that those pregnant workers who need minor workplace accommodations during pregnancy are not forced off the job instead.

Although many women can continue working safely throughout their pregnancies without the need for any modification to their jobs, some women find that at some point during pregnancy particular job activities – such as lifting, bending, or standing for long periods – may begin to pose a challenge. Many of these women could continue to work without risk to themselves or their pregnancies with slight job modifications. But in the absence of such an accommodation, they may face an impossible choice between the health of their pregnancies and their jobs.

Delaware’s new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S.B. 212) will address this problem by making it unmistakably clear that employers in the state must grant reasonable accommodations to employees who have physical limitations stemming from pregnancy or childbirth, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer – just like employers already must do for workers with physical limitations stemming from disabilities. This bill was introduced on May 7, 2014 by Senator Bethany Hall-Long and Representative Michael Barbieri.

With the introduction of this bill, Delaware becomes the 12th state just this year to take up the critical issue of ensuring that pregnant workers can get reasonable accommodations when they need them to stay healthy while continuing to do their jobs and support their families. New Jersey and West Virginia adopted pregnancy accommodations laws earlier this year – with only a single legislator voting against these laws between them. Minnesota’s Governor just signed pregnancy accommodation protections into law this past weekend. A similar bill is now close to becoming law in Illinois. And the District of Columbia, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin all also had pregnancy accommodation bills introduced this year.

Pregnant workers should not be forced to choose between having a healthy pregnancy or keeping their jobs. We look forward to continuing to fight for this commonsense solution for Delaware’s pregnant workers. 

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