Quinn signs pregnancy workplace protection bill

Gov. Pat Quinn, seen here last week, signed a bill into law today aimed at boosting workplace protections for pregnant women. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune / August 21, 2014)

Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a measure aimed at providing further protections for pregnant women in the workplace.

The legislation bars employers from firing, segregating against or refusing to hire pregnant women.  Sponsoring Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, has said the measure would relieve the issue of some women having to choose between having a child or taking a job.

The bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations based on a woman's needs, but a boss could ask for a doctor's note. Women also could seek limited physical duties, such as avoiding heavy lifting.
“This legislation is especially important for low-income workers, who typically have the most physically demanding jobs and are least likely to have access to maternity leave and sick time,” said Wendy Pollack, director of the Women’s Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, in a statement issued by Quinn’s office. “Women can’t afford to lose their jobs, along with their income, seniority, and their employer-provided health insurance, or put their pregnancies at risk, due to the denial of a reasonable accommodation.”

Quinn signed the measure as he faces Republican challenger Bruce Rauner in the Nov. 4 election. The bill was not controversial in the General Assembly, passing the Senate 57-0 and the House 115-0. The law takes effect Jan. 1. You can read the bill here.

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