February 6, 2020

Bill to protect pregnant workers passes House

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

HB 25, which advocates say protects pregnant workers from discrimination, passed the House unanimously on Thursday.

There was very little debate around the bill on the House floor. House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, a Republican from Artesia, asked how the bill had changed since last year, when Rep. Gail Chasey, a Democrat from Albuquerque, brought a pregnant worker accommodation bill to the Legislature.

Chasey said that she worked with the New Mexico Hospitality Association and New Mexico Counties so that the bill now falls under the Human Rights Act. The effect of that is that if a worker feels they have been discriminated against, they must take their case to the state’s Human Rights Commission before seeking a lawsuit.

A representative from the New Mexico Hospitality Association spoke in favor of the bill during the House Judiciary Committee earlier last Friday. Representatives from both anti-abortion and abortion rights groups spoke in favor of the bill when it came before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

Related: Bill for pregnant workers passes committee with support from all sides

The current bill was amended in the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week to remove the words “as long as necessary,” from a portion of the bill that defines the words “reasonable accommodations.” Proponents of the bill say “reasonable accommodations” means things such as a stool while standing at work, water at a workstation and extra bathroom breaks. The bill also protects workers who have just given birth.

The bill will now go to the Senate. Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, is also sponsoring the bill.