Outreach - Pregnancy Accommodations

On March 22nd this bill came to the House floor for debate and a roll-call vote. I voted "Yes". The bill passed 97 to 44. Here's the details:

R-Yea 

8

R-Nay

41

D-Yea 

77

D-Nay

1

R-Absent

4

D-Absent

4

Oth-Yea

12

Oth-Nay

2

Oth-Absent

0

Abstain

0

Not-Voting

1

150

The bill was passed to the Senate for their consideration.

Why I voted "Yes." 
I understand that there are many businesses that are more than happy to make accommodations for pregnant women. They recognize that it makes good business sense to do whatever they can to retain good employees. Such businesses resent having the government involved in employer/employee relationships. There are a number of instances where I would not support such an intervention. But for those businesses that already acknowledge the sense of such accommodations the law would have no impact. There are no additional forms that must be filled out or filings that must be made.

I believe Vermont should do whatever it can to attract young workers. This bill will help to project an image of Vermont as a state that supports young female workers and strives to make working while pregnant easier. The state's economy needs such workers.

More about the Bill
H.136  Relates to businesses making accommodations for pregnant women. Basically, the bill says that if an employee is pregnant and wants some special accommodations she should sit down with her employers and talk about it. The employer must make 'reasonable accommodations' unless the accommodation result in 'undue hardship' to the employer. Disputed are resolved through judicial review, but do not require suits or court proceedings. I believe this is done through either the Attorney General or the Vermont Human Rights Commission. The debate brought up a number of good questions and responses, including questions of what exactly  are 'reasonable accommodations' and what is 'undue hardship'. These terms are defined in the bill:
“Reasonable accommodation” means the changes and modifications which can be made in the structure of a job or in the manner in which a job is performed. Reasonable accommodation may include more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, acquisition or modification of equipment, seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, assistance with manual labor, modified work schedules, or the provision of unpaid leave in addition to any leave provided pursuant to federal law or sections 472 and 472a of this title.
“Undue hardship” means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense to the employer. Factors to be considered in determining whether an undue hardship is imposed by the requirement that reasonable accommodation be made for a condition related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition include the size of the business and the cost of the accommodation.