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W.Va. pregnant workers act quietly takes effect

Herald-Dispatch photo A pregnant woman places her hand over her belly, close to her baby. She bought a bear for the baby.
Herald-Dispatch photo
A pregnant woman places her hand over her belly, close to her baby. She bought a bear for the baby.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new law quietly took effect in West Virginia on July 1, as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was established.

The law states that employers cannot discriminate against workers affected by pregnancy or medical issues related to pregnancy, and must be accommodating to the needs of those employees unless doing so presents an “undue hardship” for the employer.

One of the reasons the measure hasn’t gotten much talk lately is because it was actually approved more than a year ago, in the final month of the 2014 legislative session.

Del. Don Perdue, D-Wayne, was lead sponsor on the bill.

“It was something that we had pursued for several years,” Perdue said Monday. “We had heard reports over the years of pregnant women being discomforted by their employers. We were very much compelled to do something because of the anecdotal evidence we had, and we also knew it was a burgeoning national issue. I’m very proud that we were able to get this done.”

The final version of the bill that was passed in March 2014 gave the responsibility for determining the specifics regarding discrimination, acceptable practices and undue hardship on an employer to the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.

The HRC was given two years to establish legislative rules regarding the fairness act, but ended up getting it done early…

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