2016 Bills

SB59: Imposing an Employer Mandate for Birth and Breastfeeding Accommodations

This bill passed the Senate 18-9 and passed the House 59-15.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

Last year, the Utah legislature violated property rights by imposing a mandate on business owners in regards to employing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. A new bill this year seeks to add an additional mandate in regards to pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

Senate Bill 59, sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler, forces employers to “provide reasonable accommodations for an employee for the known conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions.” This mandate establishes a new entitlement that erodes the strength and status of Utah’s “at will” employment law; employees should not be able to force their employers—in a voluntary contractual relationship—to accommodate things they otherwise prefer not to, for whatever reason.

An exemption is provided for “undue hardship,” defined as “an action that requires significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to factors such as the size of the entity, its financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.”

Article XII Section 20 of Utah’s Constitution states, “It is the policy of the state of Utah that a free market system shall govern trade and commerce in this state to promote the dispersion of economic and political power and the general welfare of all the people.” As this bill would force employers to accommodate activity they otherwise might prefer not to, it violates the free market and must therefore be opposed.