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Governor Quinn Urges Senate to Pass Bill to Protect Pregnant Women

Press Release

Location: Chicago, IL

overnor Pat Quinn today celebrated Mother's Day by urging the Illinois Senate to pass House Bill 8, which provides job protections for pregnant women. The Governor called for passage of this important legislation to protect moms-to-be while walking alongside thousands of participants in the Susan G. Komen Mother's Day Race for the Cure in Grant Park to show his support for mothers and grandmothers across Illinois. The walk is dedicated to raising awareness and supporting the fight against breast cancer.

"To those near, far or forever in our memories, we should each take time on this special day to honor our moms for their love and support," Governor Quinn said. "Mother's Day is the perfect way to celebrate the women in our lives and raise awareness for legislation to help provide protections for those who have protected us.

"House Bill 8 is an important bill for our expectant mothers that will help reduce discrimination in the workplace and provide peace of mind for the safety of their babies.

"This Mother's Day I urge the Senate to pass this bill so I can sign it on behalf of Illinois' moms," the Governor said.

House Bill 8, sponsored by State Representative Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), would provide pregnant women with important worker protections such as limits on heavy lifting and assistance in manual labor; access to places to sit; more frequent bathroom breaks; time off to recover from childbirth and break space for breast-feeding. Studies have shown that, despite existing protections, pregnant women are too often forced out of their jobs and denied reasonable job modifications that would enable them to continue working. The Governor worked with Rep. Flowers and House members to pass the legislation and it is currently before the Senate.

Since the last time pregnancy workforce protections were addressed at the federal level in 1978, the number of women who work during pregnancy has continued to rise at a high rate. According to a report issued in 2013 by the National Women's Law Center, nearly two-thirds of first-time mothers continue to work while pregnant and the majority of those work into the their last month of pregnancy. Unfortunately, as the number of pregnant women working has increased so has the number of pregnancy discrimination cases filed. A study by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shows that, from 1992 to 2011, charges of pregnancy discrimination filed increased 71 percent.

Governor Quinn urges swift passage of HB 8 to ensure employers provide these reasonable accommodations for pregnant women and stop workforce discrimination. The Governor has been committed to protecting and empowering women in Illinois since taking office. Some of his initiatives include:

Fought for and signed a law amending the Equal Pay Act to give victims of underpayment more time to address their claims.

Launched the innovative Birth to Five Initiative in his 2014 State of the State address to expand access to prenatal care; early care and learning opportunities for every child; and strong parent support.

Leading the charge to increase the state's minimum wage to at least $10 per hour -- six in ten minimum wage workers in Illinois are female.

In his 2014 State of the State address, proposed a minimum of two days of earned sick leave per year for 2.5 million Illinois workers, 78 percent of whom are women, who have no sick leave.

Launched the first ever Women Owned Business Symposium.
The Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure honors and supports those who have battled breast cancer and continues the mission to save lives and end breast cancer.

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