South Dakota lawmaker blocks workplace protection for pregnant workers: "It's not prison. You can quit."

South Dakota state Rep. Wayne H Steinhauer [R-9] (Phone: 605-526-4269/ 605-773-3851/ 605-359-6298); Email:, never-used Twitter account) was part of a group of eight male, GOP reps who killed a bill that would have guaranteed workplace accommodations to pregnant South Dakotans. During the hearing, Rep Steinhauer told women "It's not prison. You can quit."

Rep Steinhauer expanded on this view, saying that pregnant people shouldn't want to work for employers who wouldn't accommodate their pregnancies, and thus the state was doing them a favor by failing to require employers to treat workers with fairness and dignity.

Rep Steinhauer's official state bio lists his occupation as "business owner."

The law — which parallels legislation in 18 states and DC — would have required employers to provide pregnant workers with water, a stool to sit on, and bathroom breaks.

Nationwide, an estimated 250,000 pregnant workers are denied these accommodations every year. In South Dakota, the state Equal Employment Opportunity Commission frequently receives complaints about denial of such basic workplace rights.

A federal version of this law has been repeatedly introduced by Democrats, but has not progressed.

"You've got a choice every day. You make a choice whether you come to work," he went on. "And I'm here to tell you, if a person's not allowing you to breastfeed at work or making appropriate accommodations at work, we can pass this law, but you don't want to work for that guy. Get the heck out of there."

State lawmaker's solution for pregnant workers: 'You can quit'
[Bryce Covert/Think Progress]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Pregnant mother>, Unsplash, CC0; Karte South Dakotas, USGS/PD; Loxodonta africana, Schuyler Shepherd, CC-BY)