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Pregnancy Protection Bill Headed to MI House

September 17, 2008

Lansing, MI – Legislation aimed at broadening Michigan's civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination against pregnant workers is headed for debate in the state House of Representatives. Supporters say it's designed to prohibit the practice of putting pregnant women on leave without pay even when they can still perform their jobs.

The measure has backing from the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Spokeswoman Shannon Scofield says it's fair and makes sense.

"We do not believe pregnancy should be a reason for terminating employment. We are committed to ending discrimination, in all of its forms, for all people."

The bill passed the House Labor Committee Tuesday on a six-to-two vote.

Scofield says the law will ease the concerns of a lot of working women.

"It impacts all women who are in jobs when they become pregnant. That is a time when many women need employment, need their health benefits, and need the additional income."

Scofield says the bill came about because Michigan's current anti-discrimination law, the Elliott–Larsen Civil Rights Act, has a few loopholes.

"There was a situation where a Detroit police officer was required to take unpaid leave during her pregnancy, because of a policy requiring pregnant workers to take unpaid leave."

Rep. Coleman Young Jr., the bill's author, says it will put Michigan in line with federal anti-discrimination policy.

Opponents of the measure argue that most businesses already do all they can to accommodate pregnant employees.

More information on House Bill 6226 is available online at www.legislature.mi.gov/.

Jim Wishner/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MI