By JOSEFA VELASQUEZ
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging passage of a bill that would better accommodate the needs of pregnant women in the workplace by mandating bathroom breaks and seating for them.
“It’s sad that we have to legislate human decency,” Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a sponsor of the bill, said Monday.
The measure would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women, including an exemption from heavy lifting. Gunther and Republican sponsor Sen. Kemp Hannon hope to pass the measure as a stand-alone bill and not part of a larger 10-point legislative package involving women’s issues that includes a contentious abortion plank.
Last year, the Senate passed nine of the bills, including reproductive rights, pay equity, sexual harassment, human trafficking and orders of protection. The Assembly’s leadership said then it wouldn’t consider the nine bills without the abortion plank.
New York City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect in late January and guarantees accommodation for light duty or a temporary transfer to a less demanding position.
“It’s time to protect women and not hold politics above that,” Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said.
Paulin also is asking the Assembly to consider a bill that would toughen criminal penalties for forcing someone into sexual servitude.
Members of the Senate Democratic Conference reintroduced the 10-point Women’s Equality Act in May. Many Democratic senators reiterated that negotiations between the houses resulted in some of the legislation being watered down and were adamant about keeping the bills as a package.
The Senate is expected to pass the legislation within the coming weeks.