Recent actions in Arizona could expand worker rights

While the Arizona Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later modifications provided protections for workers, many observers supported additional actions. This came at a time when critics argued the state lagged nationwide trends in some areas of employment law.

Statewide and local actions now potentially provide added protections for certain workers, most notably related to mothers in the workforce.

Statewide action

The website SHRM reported that Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2045 into law in early 2021, and the law went into effect later that year. The law expanded discrimination protections because of sex for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical situations. In cases dealing with sexual harassment, all Arizona employees must comply with the law.

While pregnant workers had protection already under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the new law allows the Arizona attorney general to investigate charges of discrimination based on pregnancy. In essence, the law gives pregnant workers another avenue to fight workplace discrimination.

Local action

Also in 2021, Glendale became the ninth city in Arizona to pass a measure to protect LGBTQ+ members and families from a variety of discrimination actions. The ordinance provides recourse for individuals facing discrimination in areas of employment, public accommodation and housing within the city limits. Violators of the ordinance could receive civil penalties.

In other notable news, Tucson became the first city in Arizona to pass the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The act pertains to all employers operating within Tucson. Supporters say the act will protect people from workplace discrimination due to non-traditional hairstyles, an occurrence that falls most frequently on African American women.