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Iowa lawmakers propose Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act

DES MOINES – Some say pregnant women are not treated the best in Iowa workplaces, and lawmakers are aiming to change that.

According to the Iowa ACLU, this week a bipartisan group of state lawmakers cosponsored the Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act, HF 376.

The act would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees based on pregnancy or child birth and making penalties applicable.

The ACLU says many of the accommodations are as simple as allowing pregnant workers to carry water bottles, providing a stool so they don’t have to stand for long periods, and accommodate necessary doctor’s appointments.

“In Iowa, we continue to see documented accounts of pregnant workers who must choose between earning a livelihood and a healthy pregnancy,” the ACLU explained. “In one case, a worker was required to get on a ladder, was injured, and ended up getting an emergency C-section. In another, a real estate employee followed doctor’s orders and requested that she spend less time on her feet. But she was terminated — even though other employees recovering from medical conditions were accommodated with reasonable and temporary changes in duties.”

Local doula Abbey Hall, who works regularly with pregnant women in the North Iowa area, says women can easily be mistreated on the job, and this legislation could help.

“Any legislation benefiting a pregnant woman, who is already facing a lot of work and potential stress, should be considered,” she noted.

The bill passed out of subcommittee 3-0 on Friday, February 23, and has been sent to  the House Labor Committee for consideration.  There is a deadline of March 3 for the bill to advance.

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