State lawmakers pass bill eliminating pregnant worker discrimination

The bill is known as the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – House lawmakers overwhelmingly passed bill aimed at eliminating discrimination against pregnant workers.

The House unanimously approved a bill that would require companies to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers, such as more frequent breaks, seating and assistance with manual labor.

The bill, known as the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, received support from both democrats and republicans with 149 yes and zero no votes. State lawmakers consider this a victory as they face uncertainty in Washington.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said, “As the winds out of Washington threaten the safety and livelihoods of women, Massachusetts will stand for the opposite.”

Alejandra Duarte of Framingham told 22News her laundry job supervisors denied her less heavy lifting when she was pregnant. “The response of the company was, ‘No. It’s inconvenient for us. We’re not going to do it.’ We had to push carts from 230 pounds to 600 pounds.”

She hopes the bill will allow pregnant women to continue working and make companies respect their rights. Similar legislation failed last year after businesses raised concerns that it could cause unfair hardships for small businesses.

One lawmaker told 22News that retraining new employees to replace pregnant workers could end up costing companies more money.

State Representative Aaron Vega, (D) Holyoke said, “The reality is that what costs small businesses more money often is retraining new people so if you can have someone that knows the job stay there as long as she can that’s going to actually save companies a lot of money to not have to retrain somebody.”

The bill will also prevent discriminating against women who are pregnant or nursing. The bill now moves onto the Senate.