By Padmini Parthasarathy
This is cool. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the Women’s Economic Security Act on Monday. The act is chock-full of good (and inventive) provisions to promote economic equality between the sexes. Here’s what’s in it:
Rights of pregnant women and new parents
Unpaid pregnancy and parental leave will be expanded from six to 12 weeks. The provision is gender neutral, and leave can be taken any time within 12 months of the child leaving the hospital.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women. That means more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks, more sitting, and less manual labor. Employee does not have to get a signed note from a doctor or doula to get better treatment, and employers cannot claim undue hardship for providing it.
New opportunities for women
Businesses with more than 50 employees seeking state contracts worth more than $500,000 must prove their compliance with existing equal pay laws.
$250,000 of the budget will go towards investing in a grant program to promote high-wage, high-demand, non-traditional jobs for women.
$500,000 will go towards entrepreneurial training, mentoring, and technical assistance for women-owned businesses. Some of the money will also go toward outreach to mid-career women interested in starting businesses.
Protection from wage and other discrimination
An employer can’t prevent an employee from disclosing her wages as a condition of employment.
"Familial status" is a new protected class (like race and sexual orientation). This means that employers can’t discriminate against women who have children and family obligations by purposely not hiring them, letting them go, etc.
Economic protection for survivors of sexual assault
People who quit their jobs because they were victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking are still eligible to apply for unemployment benefits
Image via flickr cc, "Welcome to Minnesota"