Pregnant workers rights bill clears Senate panel
SB 38 would require employers to make a "reasonable accommodation" for pregnant workers
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that supporters believe will make the workplace a better place for mothers-to-be.
SB 38 would prohibit discrimination against pregnant workers, requiring employers to make a "reasonable accommodation."
Lyndi Trichsler, a Florence, Kentucky police officer, testified in support of the bill. She had been on the Florence Police Department for two years in 2014 when she got pregnant, and the problems began.
“Between my vest and my belt, it was about 30 pounds. My vest didn't cover half of my belly when I was still working on the road at that time,” Trichsler said.
Trichsler asked the department for desk duty, but the city of Florence denied the request. Trichsler said city officials told her requests for light duty applied only to employees who had suffered on-the-job injuries.
She filed a discrimination suit, and eventually won. The city of Florence paid a settlement.
“I knew that it was very important. I knew that, maybe, if I didn't do it, no one else would,” she said.
Now Trichsler is fighting to help other women, telling lawmakers her story.
“If there had been a clear law in the books, then my co-workers and I would not have to be afraid of getting pregnant and having families,” she said.
SB 38 is sponsored by Republican Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington.
“No woman in KY should have to choose between the health of her pregnancy, and her job,” she told her colleagues.
Even as some lawmakers voiced support for the bill, they raised concerns about how some employers could comply.
“Someone may work in a lumber yard or something, and perhaps there is no light duty available. There just simply isn't,” said Sen. Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro.)
Elizabeth Gedmark, of the advocacy group “A Better Balance”said the law does allow for situations when accommodation would present an “undue hardship.”
“First of all, they might be interested in developing that program for somebody like a pregnant worker or those that have disabilities. But to the extent that it would be an undue hardship, they would be exempt,” she said.
The bill was approved unanimously, and moves on to the full Senate.
“I think it's great for the future of working women in Kentucky. What I went through is pretty terrible, and I don't want anyone else to have to go through that at all,” said Trichsler.
The current version of the the bill applies to employers with 8 workers or more. But before a final vote in the Senate, there may be a move to change that threshold to 15 employees, and exclude even more small businesses.
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