Legislation passes Senate that provides more protection to pregnant workers

Legislation passes Senate that provides more protection to pregnant workers (April 4, 2013)

Legislation that would strengthen the rights of pregnant women in the workplace has now passed both chambers of the General Assembly and will go to the governor's desk for signing.

The Senate passed the House version of the bill Thursday allowing it move to the final step to becoming law.

Companies would have to adjust the duties of women who can't perform their normal jobs because they are pregnant.

The legislation would require businesses to allow women to do less strenuous jobs because their current work might harm the expectant mom or her baby. It also would require employers to make other reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as use of a chair while working.

Women would be required to show proof from a doctor or other health care professional that they need to ease off their regular work.

The bill follows a court case involving UPS worker Peggy Young. The driver based at the Landover UPS office took unpaid leave while trying to get pregnant and asked for light duty while pregnant. She was denied and instead told she could come back to work after giving birth. 

Young sued UPS in federal court, seeking protections under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but the court found that she had failed to prove discrimination.

Workers rights groups and women's advocates supported the bill because they said federal law does not provide enough protection. Judges have interpreted pregnancy discrimination laws in ways that end up being unfavorable to pregnant women.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce said the law isn't needed because pregnant women are treated under federal law as any other temporarily disabled person.