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Pregnant woman working in a greenhouse.
Illinois lawmakers passed one of the many measures that should have long since been signed into federal law but have been blocked by congressional Republicans:
House lawmakers sent the governor legislation that would bar employers from firing, segregating against or refusing to hire pregnant women. Sponsoring Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, 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.

Women who are denied those reasonable accommodations are often faced with the choice between earning the money they need to pay their bills and guarding their health, sometimes with terrible consequences. Bryce Covert reports on one such woman in Illinois:
After Benet Holmes, a Walmart worker in Chicago, became pregnant, she asked her manager to switch her to light duty work that would be easier on her pregnancy. But while he gave her the go ahead, other store managers “had a problem with it,” she told ThinkProgress. So she was put back on regular duty where she had to climb ladders, carry boxes, and stock heavy items in the grocery section.

She eventually miscarried. When asked if she thought that the simple change to light duty would have meant a healthy pregnancy, she answered, “Yes. Definitely.”

Holmes is not alone. Other Walmart workers have faced financial strain when denied light duty, and last year, a worker sued Albertsons for refusing to give her light duty despite three doctors' notes. Her baby was born prematurely and only lived a few minutes; the mother was demoted when she returned from leave.

This simply shouldn't be a choice women are forced to make, but as long as it's up to the bosses, it's going to keep happening. It's excellent to see states passing such laws, but, like raising the minimum wage, it's something states are forced into because congressional Republicans will not allow any legislation that helps workers, however basic or popular it may be.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by Chicago Kossacks, Land of Lincoln Kos, and Daily Kos.

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