Why NM Legislators Should Vote for HB 25
Summary: Sponsored by Reps. Chasey and Stefanics, HB 25 amends the Human Rights Act to prohibit unlawful discrimination on grounds of pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions by an employer, labor organization, apprenticeship program, or employment agency. It also prohibits unlawful discrimination in providing public accommodations and housing accommodations including the sale or rental of property or mortgage loans on the grounds of pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. It requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions, and prohibits them from requiring an employee to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided, unless the employee requests to be placed on paid or unpaid leave.
History: In 2017, HB 179 was vetoed by Gov. Martinez on the grounds that existing legislation already protected pregnant workers and that the bill was too vague on related conditions that were covered. In 2019, HB 196 passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate Public Affairs and Judiciary committees but did not come to a vote on the floor of the Senate. The current bill appears to be the same as the 2019 bill. Both are simpler than the 2017 bill and achieve their aim by amending the state’s Human Rights Act instead of enacting a new Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act.
Why This Bill Is Good for NM
- Over 50% of all New Mexicans giving birth hold a paying job during pregnancy; in 2017, the Dept. of Health estimated that only 40% of those had paid maternity leave, and many felt the need to return to work immediately after giving birth. This bill would prevent employers from requiring workers to take leave when reasonable accommodations would allow them to continue working.
- There is bipartisan agreement that workers should not experience discrimination because of pregnancy or childbirth. (Governor Martinez objected to this law not because it was a bad idea but because she thought workers were already protected.) The Human Rights Bureau of the Dept. of Workforce Solutions currently addresses claims of discrimination based on pregnancy; this bill changes that from a department policy to a legal requirement by including pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions in the Human Rights Act.
- The Department of Workforce Solutions enforces the NM Human Rights Act where implementation and enforcement of this legislation will occur. Therefore, there should be no extra burden on the Department of Workforce Solutions for investigation claims pertaining to protections requested as a result of pregnancy.
- Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and explicitly prohibited by the Pregnancy Discrimination Action found in 42 U.S.C. Section 2000(e) (k).
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
New Mexico Women’s Agenda
New Mexico Women.org
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Strong Families NM