N.M. House Approves Workplace Protections For Pregnant Employees
The New Mexico Human Rights Act protects employees from discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and more. A bill working its way through the Legislature would add pregnancy to the list. The Pregnant Worker Accommodation bill was approved on a 65-0 vote in the House Thursday, Feb. 6.
House Bill 25 would require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnancy-related needs, like sitting more or lifting less on the job.
Joan Lamunyon Sanford with the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice told the House Judiciary Committee last week about how she worked with an employee who was pregnant to get a closer parking spot. “The walk from our city parking garage was getting a little bit too much for her,” Lamunyon Sandord said. “So, we said, ‘we’ll reimburse you for the meters across the street.’ Easy.”
The proposal would protect employers from “undue hardships,” like making accommodations they can’t afford.
Advocacy groups that don’t usually see eye-to-eye, such as Planned Parenthood and the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, have found common ground in supporting the bill.
The New Mexico Business Coalition opposes the legislation, saying federal law already protects pregnant workers. But the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque), says that’s not the case because the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not apply to workplaces with fewer than 15 employees.
The Pregnant Worker Accommodation bill now heads to the Senate, where a similar bill stalled in last year’s session.
This story is part of the project: Your N.M. Government. Funding for our legislative coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the New Mexico Local News Fund and KUNM listeners like you.