CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A bill that requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to allow pregnant employees to continue to work unanimously passed the House Wednesday, after amendments to extend protections to the employees' fetuses were rejected on the House floor.
Amendments offered by Delegate Michael Folk, R-Berkeley, would have extended protections under the law to the fetus, and also would have required that the "health of the unborn child" be considered regarding any accommodations or workload limitations provided for the pregnant employee.
"Quite frankly, a vote for this amendment is a vote for unborn children," Folk said of the first of his two amendments.
However, Judiciary Chairman Tim Manchin, D-Marion, called the first amendment confusing and ill-conceived, making it unclear who is to file a claim against an employer who fails to provide reasonable accommodations.
Manchin said Folk's other amendment was unnecessary, since by assuring the health, workplace safety and well being of the pregnant employee, the bill (HB4284) by definition would be protecting the health of the fetus.
"The health and welfare of the child is already protected within the parameters of this act," Manchin said.
Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, went further, suggesting that Folk's amendment would create legal chaos, including providing grounds that both the pregnant woman and the fetus could each be considered employees under the legislation.
"Will a company that employs a pregnant mom be required to give a W-2 to the fetus?" Skinner asked.
"This does not in any way create an employee that would get a W-2," responded Folk, who appeared flustered at times by Skinner's questions.