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.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:
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.
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.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.
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.”
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.