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Federal lawmakers consider pregnancy discrimination bill

Several states, including New Jersey, recently passed laws protecting pregnant women in the workplace. Now federal lawmakers are considering a bill that would afford more protections to women across the country.

Legislation under consideration states that pregnancy would be treated as a temporary disability. The law would require employers to make certain accommodations for employees with conditions that are related to childbirth and pregnancy. At the same time, employers would be barred from pregnancy discrimination.

The legislation is not one-sided, though. The law would offer some protection for employers. Employees would be required to cooperate with requests for medical information necessary to verify that pregnancy-related conditions exist and are as stated. Employers would also not have to make accommodations that would impose undue hardship on the company.

According to reports from Capitol Hill, the pregnancy accommodation bill is part of an omnibus bill -- the Women's Equality Act -- that is currently stalled in the Senate. Political differences over abortion language in another part of the bill have caused a delay. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have requested a stand-alone vote on the pregnancy plank of the bill. Some legislators also support sectioning off another part of the bill for immediate vote -- that section deals with sex trafficking.

In support of pregnancy accommodation in the workplace, a March of Dimes board member noted that 75 percent of women coming into the workforce will at some point be working and pregnant. She cited the need for women to be able to continue generating an income during pregnancy while also considering their health and the health of their unborn child.

Pregnant women working in New Jersey already have protections under state law. If you believe you are being discriminated against because of your pregnancy, then you should speak with an employment law attorney about protecting your career as well as your health.

Source: Capitol Confidential, "Lawmakers, advocates push for pregnancy accommodation bill," Casey Seiler, June 2, 2014

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