Protecting pregnant workers and their families

Pregnancy discrimination. It’s a topic so important that the president recently called on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., a case involving an employee who says the shipping company discriminated against her because she was pregnant. And just last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, clarified its guidelines—albeit for the first time in more than 30 years.But residents of Illinois won’t be waiting for either Congress or the Supreme Court to act. The so-called pregnancy fairness bill was recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly and is set to go into effect in January. It’s currently awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature.Under the new law, it is considered a civil rights violation if an employer refuses to grant a pregnant woman a reasonable request for any temporary adjustments—such as water breaks, more bathroom breaks or a stool to sit on—to continue to do her job and have a healthy pregnancy.This measure of protection is crucial because many families depend on the support of women to survive.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census, women are half of the workforce.