Labor and Public Employees Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6668

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING PREGNANT WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE.

Vote Date:

3/9/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/16/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Labor and Public Employees Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Discrimination still exists in the workplace against women during their pregnancy.

***NOTE: The Bill was amended during the JF Committee Meeting: The Amendment (removing lines 111-115 inclusive) removed a provision in the bill that would have created a rebuttable presumption that if an employer provides, or would be required to provide an accommodation to a non-pregnant employee, then it would not be an undue hardship for the employer to provide a similar accommodation for a pregnant employee.

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RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey

Rep. McCarthy testified just as women should be given equal pay for equal work, they should not face discrimination when pregnant. This bill strengthens the protections now provided to working mothers and assures their fair treatment.

Cheryl Sharp, Deputy Director, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO)

This testimony noted that although the State of CT is very progressive in respect to protections for pregnant women and is even more expansive than federal law, CHRO received more than 70 complaints of pregnancy discrimination last year.

Steven Hernandez, Executive Director, Commission on Women, Children and Seniors

CWCS recommends clarifying and strengthening the current accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Catherine Bailey, Deputy Director, Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund

Ms. Bailey's testimony stated that even with the current laws, discrimination still exists. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported nearly 31,000 cases of pregnancy discrimination were filed. She said the areas needing improvement include accommodations, job modifications including more frequent bathroom breaks, and carrying a water bottle. These are low or no-cost temporary changes and benefit employers by improving workplace safety, recruitment and retention of employees, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, increased employee commitments and increased diversity.

Lindsay Farrrell, Connecticut State Director, Working Families Organization

Her testimony stated that the economy of the 1950's is gone. Pregnant women have every right and often need to work. Any discrimination is simply wrong.

Eric Gjede, Counsel, CT Business and Industry Association (CBIA)

CBIA supports protection from discrimination for pregnant women in the workplace. State and Federal law requires employers to go through incredible lengths to ensure workplaces are safe and free from discrimination. The intent of this bill is clear, but the change or accommodation it is asking businesses to make is not. The State is still recovering from the recession. He requests CBIA be included in any conversation regarding this bill as it moves forward.

Sarah Croucher, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut

Her testimony sited research showing mothers sometimes face a wage penalty, which grows after each child they have. They are sidelined in their career and accommodations are needed to ensure they do not face discriminated. Sometimes they are given alternative work assignments due to conscious or unconscious discrimination. This bill would give clear protection to women who refuse such alternative assignments as long as they are able to continue to do their jobs in the same manner before pregnancy.

Erin Jones, Regional Director Advocacy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes

Mr. Jones stated that the bill will protect both the health of women's pregnancies and their financial stability by ensuring they can obtain reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None submitted.

Reported by: Marie Knudsen

Date: March 15, 2017