Bill would add pregnancy discrimination to the Arizona Civil Rights Act, allowing state enforcement
PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Representative Jeff Weninger, and Senator J.D. Mesnard announced today the passage of legislation that will prohibit pregnancy discrimination in the workplace under the Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA). Pregnancy discrimination is illegal in Arizona, but complaints can currently only be investigated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If signed by the Governor, pregnancy discrimination will be enforceable under the ACRA and will authorize the Arizona Attorney General's Office (AGO) to investigate and enforce protections for this type of discrimination.
Representative Jeff Weninger and Senator J.D. Mesnard worked with the AGO to introduce HB2045 and SB1180 this legislative session. A bill was also introduced last session, but did not pass both chambers due to the shortened session. On Thursday, both the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona Senate passed companion bills with near unanimous support, leaving the Governor's signature as the last step necessary for the bill to become law. If HB2045 is signed by the Governor, Arizona will be the 28th state to enact state laws prohibiting employers from discriminating against pregnant women.
“While pregnancy discrimination protections existed at the federal level, Arizona did not have similar protections until this bill,” said Attorney General Brnovich. “This is an important step to help ensure women are not forced to choose between a career and motherhood. I applaud our Civil Rights Division for identifying this gap in state law and working with the legislature to fix it.”
The AGO enforces the ACRA which prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, genetic testing, disability, and retaliation. Before the passage of HB2045, when the AGO received a pregnancy discrimination complaint, the AGO had to send the complaint to the EEOC. This additional layer of bureaucracy added unnecessary delays and forced expectant mothers or women who recently gave birth who were discriminated against to risk delayed justice.
“It’s time for Arizona to ensure women are protected in the workplace,” said Representative Jeff Weninger. “I am proud to work with General Brnovich, Senator Mesnard, and my legislative colleagues to get this bill passed. As a business owner, pregnancy discrimination is not only illegal, but it also hurts women and families.”
“When a woman is discriminated against because of her pregnancy, the entire family suffers,” said Senator Mesnard. “It undermines what should be a purely celebratory time. As a husband and a new father, it is important to ensure Arizona does not tolerate pregnancy discrimination.”
HB2045 stipulates that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions will be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other employees in their ability to work.