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Pregnant Workers To Be Protected Under New Law


  Despite current employment protections, pregnant women in the workplace are still sometimes forced out of jobs in Illinois. The governor Tuesday signed legislation aimed at ending that practice.

The law is meant to protect women from losing a job just because they become pregnant.

It also requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" to pregnant women, such as giving more leeway when it comes to taking bathroom breaks or sitting down at work.

Jenny Wittner with the Chicago-based advocacy group Women Employed, says this type of discrimination especially hurts women in lower-paying jobs.

"It has a dual impact to be pregnant and need accommodations and be in a job that doesn't pay well, where you need the money, you can't take time off, you don't have those kinds of benefits and abilities that you have in other types of employment," she said.

Wittner says these women also have a harder time fighting back against employers who refuse accommodations, or threaten their jobs.

The governor signed the law on Women's Equality Day, but doesn't take effect until the new year.

Correction: The story originally read that the law only applies to employers with more than 15 workers. Pregnancy was added to the list of Civil Rights violations, which apply to employers with more than one employee. WUIS regrets the error.

Hannah covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at outlets including WILL-AM/FM, Law360, The Daily Line and a temporary stint at political blog Capitol Fax before returning to the station in 2020.
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