An expectant mother reluctantly approaches her boss and confides that she is experiencing extreme morning sickness due to her pregnancy. She is looking for guidance. While she does not want to let her boss down, she has no idea how she can work in the mornings given her condition. What is the boss to do?
In Illinois, the answer to this question changed on Jan. 1. This is because Gov. Patrick J. Quinn in August signed into law amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act related to pregnancy, which dramatically alter the rights of pregnant employees and the obligations of their employers. The new law applies to all Illinois employers, regardless of size, and all job applicants and employees, including parttime, full-time and probationary employees.
Most significantly, the amendments add pregnancy as a protected class under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Previously, the IHRA prohibited employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their race, sex, color, national origin and a variety of other classes, but not pregnancy.
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