On Friday, September 7, 2018, Attorney Cynthia Pietrucha spoke to a filled room at Downers Grove’s Chamber 630 Women in Business monthly meeting hosted by Northwestern Mutual Chicagoland. Cynthia’s talk titled Illinois Working Moms: Juggling Motherhood, Childcare and Workplace Rights was sponsored by Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center located in Downers Grove.
Cynthia began her talk speaking about a client who was wronged by her manufacturer employer both during her pregnancy as well as after she gave birth. Shortly after giving birth, the client’semployer sent her a letter stating that if she did not return to work within one week, her position would be eliminated, or she would be terminated. Client’s employer withheld FMLA coverage, and the client contacted Pietrucha Law Firm, LLC.
Much of Cynthia’s talk was interactive with the audience and addressed the following topics and questions.
- Can a pregnant woman work?
“How many of you worked while you were pregnant?” Cynthia asked this question to the room. Most of the women in the room raised their hand and showed loud agreement that woman can work when pregnant. According to Attorney Pietrucha and Illinois law, an employer cannot discriminate against a woman for being pregnant. The Family Medical Leave Act allows an employer to provide pregnant women time off both during pregnancy and once the woman has her child.
Additionally, as of January 1, 2015, Illinois adopted the Illinois Pregnancy Accommodation Act, otherwise known as the IPAA. This law makes it a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act for an employer to discriminate against an employee or an applicant on the basis of pregnancy. Prior to this law, the only protection women had was to be considered “temporarily disabled.”
- Do you feel guilty being a working mother? How do you reconcile with that guilt?
“Would anyone like to share a time where they felt discriminated against in the workplace due to your duties as a mother and as a woman in business?” As a response to this question, the room began a discussion regarding needing to leave work for medical appointments for work and the employer not allowing the mother to attend. Many times, this resulted in the woman needing to leave that job in order to care for her child.
To combat this, Attorney Pietrucha states that FMLA protects mothers in workplace needing to attend these appointments. Additionally, in Cook County, mothers are provided even more protections.
Mothers in the state of Illinois are protected by the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act that went into effect on January 1, 2017. This Act required employers who provide person sick leave benefits to employees and allows employees to take leave for absences due to the illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent. Under this act, employees (male or female) are granted to utilize sick leave benefits under the same terms as if the leave were to be used for their own illness or injury.
- This past August 2018, Governor Rauner signed a bill amending the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act. Under the amendment, employers are required to provide PAID breaks to mothers who breastfeed or need to “pump” at work. Is this or is this not a step in the right direction in the workplace for future mothers?
Now, Illinois mothers can pump breastmilk on the clock in better conditions providing them basic human rights and dignity.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against in the workplace due to being pregnant, being a mother, or for any other reason, do not hesitate to contact Pietrucha Law Firm, LLC. at firstname.lastname@example.org .