Statement on NH Senate Commerce Vote to Pass SB 488, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

New Hampshire Citizens Alliance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Bipartisan vote calls for an end to workplace discrimination against pregnant women

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Senate Commerce Committee voted today to pass SB 488, the New Hampshire Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bipartisan bill is a companion bill to the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act sponsored by both of New Hampshire’s US Senators, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R).

SB 488 would guarantee the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. It calls on employers to offer reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, including more frequent or longer breaks, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, and other temporary modifications.

“Despite existing protections, pregnant workers in the United States still face discrimination,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance. “Pregnant workers are too often forced out of their jobs and denied reasonable accommodations that would enable them to continue working and supporting their families. Pregnancy discrimination complaints are actually on the rise nationally, and the nearly 70% of New Hampshire women who work throughout their pregnancy deserve workplace protections that guard against discrimination.”

“No woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “We applaud the Senate Commerce committee for standing with women and their families to ensure they have the workplace protections they need to remain in the workforce. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act seeks to end discrimination and promote healthy pregnancies and the economic security of pregnant women and their families.”

SB 488 passed Senate Commerce Committee with only minor changes, including removing the section stating that "the employer shall have the burden of proving undue hardship.” The bill is expected to be voted on by the full Senate next week. If it becomes law, New Hampshire will join fifteen states, the District of Columbia and four cities that have already passed laws requiring some employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.

The prime sponsor is Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth). Co-sponsors include Senator Molly Kelly, Dist 10; Senator Bette Lasky, Dist 13; Senator David Boutin, Dist 16; Rep. Tom Sherman, Rock. 24; Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, Hills. 30; Rep. Becky McBeath, Rock. 26; and Rep. P. Gordon, Rock. 29.

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The Stand With Women or Stand in the Way campaign of NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress Education Fund believes that instead of protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and limiting reproductive rights, our priority in New Hampshire should be to guarantee fair opportunities for women to succeed and to take care of their families.