Pregnant workers bill moves forward with hesitation

The Daily Reformer

INDIANAPOLIS– Right now, many argue the current attempts to protect pregnant workers in Indiana aren’t enough.

Lawmakers are struggling to meet in the middle on this issue.

Samantha Kern said she was having pregnancy complications at work, so she called her doctor and was told to go to the hospital immediately.

When she contacted her boss, she was told she couldn’t leave without finding her own replacement.

“And I had to wait for them to show up,” said Kern.

Torn between her job and pregnancy, kern said she stayed.

“I could not afford to be unemployed, pregnant and without health insurance,” said Kern. “Without meaningful legislation to protect me, I had to choose between saving my pregnancy or saving my job, I was unable to leave for nearly two hours and ultimately lost my baby. Since I’ve gone public with this, women are approaching me nearly every day with similar situations.”

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Kern and others were hoping lawmakers would require specific pregnancy accommodations that would stop this kind of thing from happening in the future.

She says House Bill 1309 doesn’t do that.

It says women can ask for pregnancy accommodations without fear of retaliation and requires the employer to respond to those requests in a timely manner. However, they don’t have to grant them.

“If 1309 were in place it would not have changed my situation,” said Kern.

Bill author State Rep. Karen Engleman said she thinks this is a good compromise.

“I’m not in the business of telling a business how to run their business,” said Engleman.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce supports the proposal.

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“It provides a good balance between the two,” said Mike Ripley, Indiana Chamber’s Health Care Policy and Employment Law Vice President. “It captures that interaction that is intended under the federal law, but some people think that it’s confusing this gets specific here.”

However, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce says examples of reasonable accommodations are needed and opposes the proposal.

“Things like water breaks, a stool, additional break time, letting the employee take time to catch their breath, restroom breaks,” said Indy Chamber’s Tim Brown. “These things don’t cost money to the business community and we feel like that’s reasonable and providing that clarity into the bill would go a long way.”

Some lawmakers who voted no fear passing this bill would kill any desires to strengthen protections in the future.

“I’m not voting against pregnant women, I’m voting against this bill,” said State Sen. Chip Perfect.

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The proposal passed committee 6-4 and now heads to the senate floor.

Fox 59

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