Governor signs anti-discrimination bill
Measure adds pregnancy, childbirth as protected class
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed into law a measure protecting pregnant women and new mothers from workplace discrimination.
House Bill 25, sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey and Sen. Liz Stefanics, amends the New Mexico Human Rights Act to add pregnancy, childbirth or conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth as a class protected from employment discrimination.
“It’s good to sign a bill that does what is so obviously the right thing to do,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “There is no world I can imagine in which it would be right or fair to discriminate against a woman for becoming a mother.”
The bill allows women to ask employers for “reasonable accommodations” while pregnant or newly parenting. Accommodations could include a stool to sit on, more restroom breaks or time to express milk.
“Too many pregnant women are denied reasonable workplace accommodations like a place to sit or more water breaks or a limit on the weight they must lift. They are forced to choose between a safe, healthy pregnancy or the paycheck they need to support their family. In New Mexico, that ends today,” she said.
If an employer does not comply, the pregnant worker could file a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.
The measure also prohibits an employer from forcing an employee to take paid or unpaid leave because of pregnancy, childbirth or a condition related to pregnancy or childbirth if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
The other protected classes named in the Human Rights Act are race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and physical or mental handicap.
New Mexico joins 27 other states, the District of Columbia and four cities that have passed laws requiring some employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act also forbids discrimination based on pregnancy in any aspect of employment, but the federal law applies only to employers with 15 or more workers; New Mexico’s law applies to those with four or more employees.
The measure passed unanimously in both the state House and Senate.