SENATE BILL 5244
State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1991 Regular Session
By Senators Talmadge and Conner.
Read first time January 24, 1991. Referred to Committee on Commerce & Labor.
AN ACT Relating to human reproductive rights regarding hazardous substances in the workplace; amending RCW 49.70.010, 49.70.130, 49.17.240, and 49.60.030; adding a new section to chapter 18.73 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 49.44 RCW; and adding a new section to chapter 49.70 RCW.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1. RCW 49.70.010 and 1984 c 289 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
The legislature finds and declares that the proliferation of hazardous substances in the environment poses a growing threat to the public health, safety, and welfare; that the constantly increasing number and variety of hazardous substances, and the many routes of exposure to them make it difficult and expensive to monitor adequately and detect any adverse health effects attributable thereto; that individuals themselves are often able to detect and thus minimize effects of exposure to hazardous substances if they are aware of the identity of the substances and the early symptoms of unsafe exposure; and that individuals have an inherent right to know the full range of the risks they face so that they can make reasoned decisions and take informed action concerning their employment and their living conditions.
The legislature further declares that the workplace environment may expose individuals to substances which may cause birth defects or constitute a hazard to an employee's reproductive system or to a fetus, and that employers should disclose information on workplace exposure to substances, chemical or physical, which may cause a birth defect or harm an individual's reproductive capacity. The legislature further declares that women are being subjected to discrimination in employment because of the increasingly widespread use in the workplace of materials which are feared to be potentially harmful to pregnant women and their unborn children, and in some cases women choose sterilization to avoid this discrimination. The legislature finds that the lack of public and professional education and of an organized and consistent approach to assessing pregnancy risks and providing information regarding pregnancy risks has led to heightened anxiety, improper decisions concerning continued exposure, and sometimes unnecessary pregnancy termination, pregnancy loss, premature birth, or birth defects.
The legislature further declares that local health, fire, police, safety, and other government officials require detailed information about the identity, characteristics, and quantities of hazardous substances used and stored in communities within their jurisdictions, in order to plan adequately for, and respond to, emergencies, enforce compliance with applicable laws and regulations concerning these substances, and to compile records of exposures to hazardous substances over a period of time that will facilitate the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.
The legislature further declares that the extent of the toxic contamination of the air, water, and land in this state has caused a high degree of concern among its residents and that much of this concern is needlessly aggravated by the unfamiliarity of these substances to residents.
The legislature therefore determines that while these substances have contributed to the high quality of life we enjoy in our state, it is in the public interest to establish a comprehensive program for the disclosure of information about hazardous substances in the workplace and the community, and to provide a procedure whereby residents of this state may gain access to this information.
Sec. 2. RCW 49.70.130 and 1984 c 289 s 18 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The council shall:
(a) Advise the department on the revision of the workplace hazardous substance lists;
(b) Advise the department on the revision of state exposure standards to include gases, vapors, dust, or other airborne particles, toxic materials, or harmful physical agents, which the department finds may cause birth defects or constitute a hazard to an employee's reproductive system or to a fetus when the employee is exposed to any of such substances in the workplace. The council shall strive to ensure that under the standards no employee will suffer impairment of reproductive functional capacity or that the fetus will suffer from birth defects or that a nursing mother will be exposed to toxins which can contaminate breast milk;
(c) Study the impact of this chapter on employers and make recommendations to the legislature. Special emphasis shall be given to the study of the impacts on agricultural and small business employers;
(d) Prepare an updated fiscal note of the costs of this chapter to the
department and to local governments, school districts, institutions of higher
education and hospitals;
(e) Report to the legislature its findings under (( (b) and)) (c) and
(d) of this section by January 1, 1985;
(f) Advise the department on the implementation of this chapter; and
(g) Review any matters submitted to it by the department.
(2) The council may:
(a) Review any aspect of the implementation of this chapter, and transmit its recommendations to the department; and
(b) Hold public meetings or hearings within the state on any matter or matters related to this chapter.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. A new section is added to chapter 49.70 RCW to read as follows:
Upon offering employment to a prospective employee, each employer shall inform the prospective employee of any chemicals, toxic substances, radioactive materials, or other substances, which the employer should have reasonable cause to believe will cause birth defects or constitute a hazard to an individual's reproductive system or to a fetus when the individual is exposed in the workplace to any of such substances in the course of the job assignment. This information shall be made available to current employees who are exposed to such hazards.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. A new section is added to chapter 49.44 RCW to read as follows:
(1) No employer, including the state or any political subdivision thereof, may condition the employment, transfer, or promotion of any individual on the sterilization of that individual, nor shall reproductive status be a criterion of employment. Employers are prohibited from firing employees who are exposed to reproductive hazards and who will not submit to compulsory sterilization.
(2) No employer, employment agency, or agent of either may request or require information from an employee or person seeking employment relating to the individual's child-bearing age or plans, pregnancy, or function of the individual's reproductive system, unless such information is directly related to a bona fide occupational qualification or need, but an employer, through a physician, may request from an employee any such information which is directly related to workplace exposure to substances which may cause birth defects or constitute a hazard to an individual's reproductive system or to a fetus if the employer first informs the employee of the hazards involved in exposure to such substances.
Sec. 5. RCW 49.17.240 and 1973 c 80 s 24 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The director in the promulgation of rules under the authority of this chapter shall establish safety and health standards for conditions of employment of general and/or specific applicability for all industries, businesses, occupations, crafts, trades, and employments subject to the provisions of this chapter, or those that are a national or accepted federal standard. In adopting safety and health standards for conditions of employment, the director shall solicit and give due regard to all recommendations by any employer, employee, or labor representative of employees.
(2) Any safety and health standard adopted by rule of the director shall, where appropriate, prescribe the use of labels or other forms of warning to insure that employees are apprised of all hazards to which they may be exposed, relevant symptoms, and appropriate emergency treatment, and proper conditions and precautions of safe use or exposure. Where appropriate, such rules shall so prescribe suitable protective equipment and control or technological procedures to be used in connection with such hazards and shall provide for monitoring or measuring employee exposure at such locations and intervals, and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary for the protection of employees. In addition, where appropriate, any such rule shall prescribe the type and frequency of medical examinations or other tests which shall be made available, by the employer or at his cost, to employees exposed to such hazards in order to most effectively determine whether the health of such employees is adversely affected by such exposure. In the event that such medical examinations are in the nature of research, as determined by the director, such examinations may be furnished at the expense of the department. The results of such examinations or tests shall be furnished only to the director, other appropriate agencies of government, and at the request of the employee to his physician.
(3) Whenever the director adopts by rule any safety and health standard he may at the same time provide by rule the effective date of such standard which shall not be less than thirty days, excepting emergency rules, but may be made effective at such time in excess of thirty days from the date of adoption as specified in any rule adopting a safety and health standard. Any rule not made effective thirty days after adoption, having a delayed effectiveness in excess of thirty days, may only be made upon a finding made by the director that such delayed effectiveness of the rule is reasonably necessary to afford the affected employers a reasonable opportunity to make changes in methods, means, or practices to meet the requirements of the adopted rule. Temporary orders granting a variance may be utilized by the director in lieu of the delayed effectiveness in the adoption of any rule.
(4) The director shall adopt rules setting standards for the provision of temporary job modification for employees of either sex who are contemplating parenting and who may otherwise be exposed in the workplace to substances hazardous to the reproductive function of such employees, including job modification for nursing mothers so they are protected against toxins that can contaminate breast milk.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. A new section is added to chapter 18.73 RCW to read as follows:
The department shall establish, through the four state poison control network centers, a telephone information service to provide information on requests concerning potential effects on a fetus resulting from exposure during pregnancy to drugs, chemicals, infections, and environmental hazards.
Sec. 7. RCW 49.60.030 and 1984 c 32 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The right to be free from discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, reproductive status, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical handicap is recognized as and declared to be a civil right. This right shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) The right to obtain and hold employment without discrimination;
(b) The right to the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement;
(c) The right to engage in real estate transactions without discrimination;
(d) The right to engage in credit transactions without discrimination;
(e) The right to engage in insurance transactions or transactions with health maintenance organizations without discrimination: PROVIDED, That a practice which is not unlawful under RCW 48.30.300, 48.44.220, or 48.46.370 does not constitute an unfair practice for the purposes of this subparagraph; and
(f) The right to engage in commerce free from any discriminatory boycotts or blacklists. Discriminatory boycotts or blacklists for purposes of this section shall be defined as the formation or execution of any express or implied agreement, understanding, policy or contractual arrangement for economic benefit between any persons which is not specifically authorized by the laws of the United States and which is required or imposed, either directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, by a foreign government or foreign person in order to restrict, condition, prohibit, or interfere with or in order to exclude any person or persons from any business relationship on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin or lawful business relationship: PROVIDED HOWEVER, That nothing herein contained shall prohibit the use of boycotts as authorized by law pertaining to labor disputes and unfair labor practices.
(2) Any person deeming himself injured by any act in violation of this chapter shall have a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin further violations, to recover the actual damages sustained by him, or both, together with the cost of suit including a reasonable attorney's fees or any other remedy authorized by this chapter or the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
(3) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, any act prohibited by this chapter related to sex discrimination or discriminatory boycotts or blacklists which is committed in the course of trade or commerce in the state of Washington as defined in the Consumer Protection Act, chapter 19.86 RCW, shall be deemed an unfair practice within the meaning of RCW 19.86.020 and 19.86.030 and subject to all the provisions of chapter 19.86 RCW as now or hereafter amended.