The Kennebec Journal reported today that two bills have been introduced in the Maine legislature that seek to support pregnant women on the job. According to the article, the first, LD 830,
would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women, such as allowing them to sit periodically even if they normally stand all day, or let them carry a water bottle, even if company policy prohibits it.The second bill, LD 777 would permit employees who are breastfeeding to file a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission if their employer doesn't provide a suitable space for them to express milk. Employers already are required to provide a clean, private place for nursing mothers to express milk; making failure to do so a human rights violation would be new.
These bills have the support of the ACLU, women's groups, and pro-life groups, but others find the use of "reasonable accommodation" language problematic, saying that these bills would put pregnancy in the same legal class as disability:
James Erwin, an attorney [for] insurance company Unum, opposed [LD 830], say[s], “Requiring employers to accommodate the effects of ordinary pregnancies as if they were disabilities, when the law says they are not, adds an unnecessary and duplicative protection that will create confusion and, most certainly, litigation.”Read the article, "Pair of bills would require allowances for new mothers in the workplace."