Indiana Statehouse Fails to Protect Pregnant Workers, Again: Substanceless Bill HB 1309 Passes
April 6, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
Despite resounding public support, powerful public testimony, extensive press coverage, and hundreds of phone calls, emails, and meetings, the Indiana General Assembly has once again failed to pass protections for pregnant workers and new mothers. Today HB 1309 passed through the Senate despite bipartisan opposition.
30 other states including Kentucky and Tennessee, have recently passed workplace accommodations bills which protect workers and have reduced lawsuits by providing clear guidance and requirements that workplaces provide accommodations like extra bathroom breaks and stools for pregnant workers. HB 1309, however, does not measure up to those bills, and risks harming both workers and employers by creating more confusion.
For the past three years, Hoosier Action alongside a coalition including some of the largest employers in our state, four local Chambers of Commerce, and countless nonprofits and labor unions have built bipartisan support for the passage of workplace accommodations for pregnant workers. Hoosier Action member-leaders and moms like Samantha Kern of Fishers and April Lopossa of Martinsville have helped draw significant public support for this issue by sharing their experiences as pregnant workers. Both women asked for accommodations while pregnant. When their workplaces failed to accommodate their pregnancies, April Lopossa was forced to quit her job and Samantha Kern miscarried.
However, the Indiana Manufacturers Association and the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce have fought tooth and nail against any bill which would mandate protections for pregnant workers. Faced with mounting public pressure, these special interests have instead used their power and influence to author and ensure the passage of HB 1309, a substanceless which they hope will appease the public.
But Hoosier Moms like Samantha Kern know better: “I’m disappointed and angry. My employer didn’t listen when I asked for accommodations and neither has the Indiana General Assembly. I always had the right to ask. What moms need are actual protections, not political theater.”
“We’ve spoken to hundreds of Moms across the state about this bill. Moms did not support it,” explained Hoosier Action Moms Organizer Eva Bell. “We’ve surveyed hundreds of moms and heard heartbreaking stories of Moms losing pregnancies, having adverse health impacts, and being forced to choose between their pregnancy and their paycheck. This issue is felt widely, and we need meaningful protections. We’re not going to go away, and we’re not going to accept this inadequate bill.”
HB 1309 passed the State Senate today 31-19, with significant bipartisan opposition: Senators Becker, Breaux, Buck, Crane, Doriot, JD Ford, Freeman, Houchin, Koch, Melton, Mrvan, Niemeyer, Niezgodski, Qaddoura, Sandlin, Taylor, Tomes, Walker, and Yoder all voted against the bill.
ABOUT HOOSIER ACTION
Hoosier Action is a nonpartisan, homegrown community organization made up of thousands of Hoosiers, mostly from rural and small-town Indiana. We believe that all Hoosiers, regardless of how much money they make, should have a say in the decisions which affect our lives.