The Illinois House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation to protect the health and well-being of pregnant workers, recognizing that current state and federal laws fail to guarantee reasonable workplace accommodations for being pregnant. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Flowers and supported by the ACLU of Illinois, the bill would assure pregnant employees are granted simple, but health-protecting, accommodations that do not pose undue burdens on employers: more frequent bathroom and water breaks, the ability to have a place to sit, manual labor assistance, light duty assignments and schedule adjustments, post-partum time off, and access to a private breast-feeding area upon returning to work. None of these types of accommodations are legally available to pregnant workers under existing laws creating the need for legislative action.
It is established that pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADA. As such, employers have no affirmative duty to provide “reasonable accommodations” (bathroom breaks, light duty, sitting areas, etc.) to their pregnant employees.
Furthermore, under the PDA, employers are mandated to provide pregnant workers with the same benefits as all other employees. While the PDA prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant workers, there’s no affirmative duty for employers to accommodate pregnant employees.