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Illinois Governor Signs Law Combating Pregnancy Discrimination

Teddy Wilson

During a press conference announcing the new law, Gov. Pat Quinn said that women should not have to choose between being a mother and having a job.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed a law Tuesday that creates protections from discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. The law is part of the governor’s agenda to ensure full equality for women in Illinois.

During a press conference announcing the new law, Quinn said that women should not have to choose between being a mother and having a job.

“This new law will provide important protections and accommodations for working mothers-to-be so that they can continue to provide for their family without risking their health or the health of their child,” said Quinn. “These common-sense accommodations will provide peace of mind, safety and opportunity for moms-to-be and also help strengthen our workforce across the state.”

The new law requires employers to provide accommodations for workplace activities—for instance, assistance with heavy lifting, access to places to sit, more frequent bathroom breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, and space for breast-feeding.

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HB 8, sponsored by Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), passed both the Illinois house and senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. The new law amends the Illinois Human Rights Act.

“Every woman deserves to be respected and protected, and no woman should have to hide her pregnancy for fear of losing her job because she is pregnant,” Rep. Flowers said during the press conference. ”Many of these women are disproportionately low income and single parents in need of their jobs. House Bill 8 creates a broad responsibility for employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees, which is no different than any other accommodations being made for anyone else with a health issue.”

The new law comes as the Supreme Court will be considering a case during its next term in which a part-time delivery driver for UPS has alleged pregnancy discrimination against the company. The new law is similar to legislation authored by a New York lawmaker in June.

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