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Senate Passes Pregnant and Nursing Workplace Accommodations Bill

Brian Grimmett
File: Utah State Capitol

The Utah Senate has approved a bill that would help protect pregnant and nursing women in the workplace.

Republican Sen. Todd Weiler’s Senate Bill 59 would make it so employers would have to provide reasonable accommodation to pregnant and nursing women in the workplace, unless it creates too much of a hardship. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 18 to 9, but not without some interesting floor discussion as Sen. Scott Jenkins struggled to come to terms with what the bill does and whether it would mean allowing babies in the workplace.

“Ok, so they’re going to do what I call, what my wife called milking," Jenkins said. "They’re going to go with a machine into a restroom and extract the milk. Pump it, yes, pump it. Uh, ok.”

After some clarification on the subject, Jenkins ultimately voted against the bill anyway.

“These laws you say will help, but they also hurt," he said. "This is one more addition to an anti-discrimination act. It’s already against the law to discriminate and now you get down into the weeds here into such detail, I just don’t think it’s necessary.”

As for Weiler, he says he’s a little embarrassed a state as family friendly as Utah hasn’t already passed this type of legislation. He also says he believes most employers already make accommodations and that it isn’t any more burdensome than what already exists.

“People don’t understand that the term reasonable accommodate, we’ve been dealing with this for 25 years with the ADA," Weiler says. "We know what that means, we know what that doesn’t mean. An undue hardship, these are terms that employment lawyers, that most employers are dealing with on a daily basis.”

Now that SB59 has passed the Senate, it will go before the Utah House. 

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