Ohio considers workplace protections for pregnant women

In February, state lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation that would create important workplace legal protections for Ohio women. Applicable to all workplaces with 5 or more employees, Senate Bill 301 would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding workers to allow them to remain in their jobs. Currently, no such protections exist, so women who may require frequent bathroom breaks, a place to sit or to avoid heavy lifting may today be fired or forced to take leave without pay.

According to the Plain Dealer, more than 1,500 complaints have been filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission about workplace discrimination related to pregnancy, making clear that the problem is a genuine threat to women’s (and families’) economic security. As of December, 2015, the National Partnership for Women and Families reported that 16 states, the District of Columbia and four cities have enacted pregnancy nondiscrimination laws.

The primary sponsors of S.B. 301 are Democrat Capri Cafaro and Republican Shannon Jones. In fact, every female member of the Ohio Senate — from both parties — has endorsed the legislation. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Civil Justice committee where it will receive its first hearing today.