052014 js 1648RSPRINGFIELD – Pregnant women across Illinois can soon collectively exhale as discrimination against their current condition may soon be a civil rights violation in Illinois. State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) is sponsoring legislation that will make it illegal for employers to discriminate against women because they are pregnant.

“As more women are likely to be their family's primary breadwinner, it has become evident that continuing to work through pregnancy and returning to work is particularly important for women and their families. Women are either the primary breadwinner or co-breadwinners in 64% of U.S. families, noted Senator Toi Hutchinson.

“The intent of this legislation is to make unmistakably clear that employers have to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women, just like they do for workers who need accommodations because of a disability.

“In 2014, no woman should have to choose between a job or a career and the ability to provide for her family. If we as a community value the strength of the family, then this is one of the best pro-families policies to support.”

The law is requiring employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant women in the workplace, as long as it would not put undue pressure on the business to do so. An employer is in violation of the new law if the pregnant woman is forced to take a leave of absence when another workplace accommodation would be feasible, or if a potential employer refuses to hire a qualified applicant because of accommodation requirements.

The proposed legislation has the support of the Governor’s Office, The Illinois Federation of Teachers, ACLU, Illinois National Organization for Women and the Chicago Jobs Council, among many other groups and organizations.

The legislation passed the Senate yesterday with a unanimous vote of 57-0 and returns to the House for a concurrence vote.

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