During the 2015 General Session, pro-breastfeeding legislation passed both the House and the Senate. Sponsored by former Representative Justin Miller, HB 105 – Antidiscrimination Modifications added breastfeeding, childbirth, and “pregnancy-related conditions” to the state’s anti-discrimination law.
Under the bill, new mothers cannot be fired from their place of employment due to breastfeeding. An earlier version of the bill made breastfeeding mothers a protected class, though that version of the bill was later substituted and the language removed.
[pullquote]Sen. Weiler is looking to expand rights and protections to women who have to breastfeed in the workplace, meanwhile Sen. Dabakis is hoping to expand protection to women breastfeeding in public.[/pullquote]Now, two legislators are seeking to build on last year’s progress. Senator Todd Weiler (Republican – Woods Cross) is proposing SB 59 Antidiscrimination Act Revisions, a bill that would require both public and private employers to furnish reasonable accommodations, such as a private space, for pregnant or breastfeeding women if at all possible.
Senator Jim Dabakis (Democrat – Salt Lake City) plans to push for the addition of the word “breastfeeding” to the Public Accommodations Act, thus protecting new mothers from discrimination in public places.
At a press conference last week, Dabakis pointed to Utah’s reputation as a family state and that it is high time the public shaming of women for doing something perfectly natural like breastfeeding cease. Though Dabakis’ bill hasn’t been numbered yet, his and Weiler’s legislation have already earned the support of such organizations ACLU of Utah, Voices for Utah Children, and the newly-formed Utah Women’s Coalition.
Though Dabakis’ bill hasn’t yet been released, his and Weiler’s legislation have already earned the support of organizations such as the ACLU of Utah, Voices for Utah Children, and the newly-formed Utah Women’s Coalition.
While commenting on Miller’s legislation during a committee meeting last year, Marina Lowe, legislative and policy counsel for the ACLU of Utah, pointed out that Utah would not be the first place to address the matter of breastfeeding in places of employment, noting that 25 other states have enacted statutes relating to breastfeeding in the workplace. “I think by putting something in
“I think by putting something in statute it has the benefit of saving both employers and employees money and time to be embroiled in unnecessary litigation,” said Lowe.
She is right. What Weiler and Dabakis are proposing will provide Utah women with reasonable protections under the law to ensure their right to breastfeed at work or in public is protected. Breastfeeding is not a partisan issue; it strikes a cord with both sides of the aisle. That should go a long way in helping both bills as they work their way through the process.
To contact Senator Weiler, click here or call 801-599-9823 (Cell).
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