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Md. Bill Would Strengthen Workplace Protections for Pregnant Workers

Md. Bill Would Strengthen Workplace Protections for Pregnant Workers

March 26, 2013 — A bill before the Maryland General Assembly would require companies to adjust the duties of employees who cannot perform their normal tasks when pregnant, the Baltimore Sun reports. The legislation recently passed the House and awaits consideration in the Senate.

Under the bill, businesses would be required to accommodate workers who show proof from a doctor or other health care professional that they are pregnant and need to lighten their duties. Companies would be required to provide pregnant workers with less strenuous work, as well as make other reasonable accommodations, such as using a chair while working.

State Del. Tom Hucker (D) introduced the measure in the House in response to a six-year-old lawsuit involving Peggy Young, a UPS worker who requested accommodations and was told not to return to work until after she delivered. Judges at state and appeals courts have ruled against Young, saying there was no discrimination.

Hucker said the bill is designed "to keep these cases out of court," by providing "stronger protection[s] for pregnant workers."

The legislation is supported by women's groups, who say federal laws do not adequately protect women. They note that courts across the country interpret federal laws differently and that many have ruled against women.

However, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in a position paper wrote that "this bill is overly intrusive in the employer-employee relationship and how businesses should run." It argued that pregnant women are adequately protected under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines (Walker, Baltimore Sun, 3/22).