House backs Rogers' bill supporting pregnant workers

Dave Rogers

The state House of Representatives has unanimously passed H3659, seeking fairness for Massachusetts pregnant workers, filed by Rep. Dave Rogers of the 24th Middlesex District. The experiences of pregnant workers around the Commonwealth reveal the need for legislation to ensure their rights.

This act, adopted May 10, adds pregnancy and its related conditions to existing employment nondiscrimination laws. The bill also makes it unlawful for an employer to deny a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy or pregnancy related condition.

"While I have passed other legislation," Rogers said in an email, "this is the most significant piece of legislation that I introduced that has passed the House, and all indications are that it will pass the Senate and be signed by the governor. In fact, the governor was quoted as saying that he will sign it."

Under the law, accommodations may include more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, light duty, assistance with manual labor, temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous positions, a modified work schedule and private nonbathroom space for expressing breast milk.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act also would protect pregnant workers seeking accommodation from retaliation from their employer, prevent denial of opportunities based on the need for accommodation, and protect women from being required to take leave from their jobs if a reasonable accommodation can be made.

In a news release, Rogers said, "Today, once again, the Massachusetts House of Representatives has acted boldly to advance the cause of civil rights, women’s rights, and equal opportunity. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill I introduced, makes clear that women seeking a reasonable accommodation from their employers for certain conditions or needs related to their pregnancy must be treated fairly.  

"I thank Speaker DeLeo for his strong leadership, the 99 of my House colleagues who cosponsored this legislation and the many courageous women who stepped forward to tell their stories while the bill was under consideration as -- together -- we send a powerful message in support of equal opportunity in our Commonwealth.  It is particularly heartening that Massachusetts is taking this action at a time when many in our national government seem determined to go in the wrong direction on women’s rights."

The act heads to the Senate for consideration.

Rogers has served in the states House of Representative since 2013 and represents the residents of the 24th Middlesex District which includes Belmont and parts of Arlington and Cambridge.

This news announcement was published Friday, May 12, 2017.