New Pregnancy Discrimination Law Passes Illinois Senate

On May 20, 2014, the Illinois State Senate approved legislation that would expand the rights of pregnant employees.  House Bill 8, passed by a vote of 57-0, would require Illinois employers to provide employees with reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.  The accommodations would include frequent water and bathroom breaks, help with manual labor, time-off to recover from childbirth, private non-bathroom space for breast-feeding or pumping, as well as modifications to job duties or work schedules.  The legislation, which is a proposed amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act, is expected to be passed by the Illinois House of Representative and signed into law by Governor Quinn. 

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that is already unlawful under federal law--Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and state law--the Illinois Human Rights Act.  Under existing law, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate, refuse to hire, or take other adverse job action against an employee because of his or her gender, which includes pregnancy.  House Bill 8 would increase the legal protections for pregnant employees by requiring a comprehensive set of reasonable job accommodations, with which Illinois employers should quickly familiarize themselves.