South Dakota Rejects Workplace Protections for Pregnant Women, Tells Them to Quit Instead

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Eight Republican men in South Dakota have killed a bill that would have required employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, and in defiance of all logic, they’re actually claiming they did pregnant women a favor.

According to Think Progress, South Dakota bill HB 1120 was designed to create protections and accommodations for pregnant women in their places of employment.

Lest anyone think these hypothetical pregnant women were being asked for pretend “accommodations” like being allowed not to do any work, or to be given fluffy down beds to sit on and interns to fan them with palm leaves, the accommodations in question are actually completely reasonable things like being allowed to go to the bathroom, having water available, allowing them to make adjustments to their seating arrangements, or temporary transfer to a less hazardous job. It also said employers had to provide a place for pumping or breastfeeding that was not a bathroom.

Reasonable accommodations are defined in the bill as “an action that does not unduly disrupt or interfere with the employer’s normal operations; threaten the health or safety of the employee with a disability or others; contradict a business necessity of the employer; or impose undue hardship on the employer.” The law would have applied to businesses with more than 50 employees.

The bill did not pass, and state representative Wayne H Steinhauer said that women should, “just quit.”

“It’s not prison,” he said. “You can quit.”

Oh yes, pregnant women. Quit your jobs. That’s not going to cause money problems, stress, or health insurance problems.

While a reasonable person might think that a pregnant woman would want to keep her job, because she’s likely about to face a ton of very large expenses related to her impending infant, and because her health insurance could well be tied to her employer, apparently Steinhauer thinks jobs for pregnant ladies are just falling out of the sky. He even manages to make it sound like he’s doing women a favor, because if an employer needed to be told to let a pregnant woman go to the bathroom, she shouldn’t want to work there anyway.

“You’ve got a choice every day. You make a choice whether you come to work,” Steinhauer said. “And I’m here to tell you, if a person’s not allowing you to breastfeed at work or making appropriate accommodations at work, we can pass this law, but you don’t want to work for that guy. Get the heck out of there.”

Sure, just get another job, from someone who will hire a pregnant woman and give her reasonable workplace accommodations out of the goodness of their heart. That’s likely.