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House of Delegates
Wed February 5, 2014
W. Va. House Passes Bill to Prevent Discrimination Against Pregnant Women In The Workforce
On Wednesday the House passed bill 4284, also known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
The bill’s purpose would be to prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace.
The following would be considered an unlawful employment practice:
-To not make reasonable accommodations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a job applicant or employee unless the employer can prove that the accommodation would be an “undue hardship” on the operation of the business.
-Deny employment opportunities to a job applicant or employee if the denial is based on the refusal to make reasonable accommodations.
-Require a job applicant or employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to accept an accommodation that the applicant or employee chooses not to accept.
-Require an employee to take leave under any leave law or policy of the business if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
The main topic of debate was on an amendment proposed by Delegate Michael Folk which would add the unborn fetus of the pregnant worker to the bill’s definition of “person.”
“Quite frankly a vote for this amendment is a vote for the unborn children,” Folk said. “The whole purpose of this bill is to protect the mother which by common sense says you should be protecting the child too.”
Delegate Manchin and others opposed the amendment due to its potential confusing nature from a legal standpoint.
“If you look at the definition and how he wants to change it, it now would make it illegal for a fetus to discriminate against a pregnant worker,” Manchin said.
The amendment and a second amendment attempting to clear up the language of the first amendment were rejected.
However, the bill without the amendments was passed 94-0 and moves on to the Senate.