Nineteen states have enacted workplace protections for expectant months, now Massachusetts may be ready to add pregnant women to the list of worker categories protected under the state's anti-discrimination employment laws.

The Pregnant Worker's Fairness Act would protect expectant mothers where they work. The bill, from co-sponsors Sen. Joan Lovely and Rep. David Rogers, would make it illegal for an employer to fire, or to refuse to hire, an individual because she's pregnant.

The bill would also prevent employers from denying "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant workers and would make it illegal to refuse to reinstate the employee for their original job or an equivalent position. Longer or more frequent breaks, leave after childbirth, less strenuous work and seating while working are accommodations specifically named in the legislation.

Alejandra Duarte trained new workers at a laundry when she became pregnant in 2006.

"I asked my supervisor if she could schedule fewer of the new workers on Sundays so I could do my task without having to run or having to do much lifting. She knew I was pregnant. My supervisor reject my request. She say I could accept the work as it was or stop working there," Duarte told the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Tuesday at a State House hearing.

Duarte couldn't afford to lose the physically demanding job, kept working, and eventually lost her baby to a miscarriage.

Employers can argue that an accommodation is a hardship on them based on cost, number of employees and the type of facility they operate.

The bill has stalled in the Legislature for several years because of objection from business groups who said it might be too onerous on employers.

The Boston Globe reported that powerful business lobby the Associated Industries of Massachusetts worked to squelch the bill last session. After moving to the House Ways and Means Committee, the key budget-writing panel, the protections for pregnant workers bill became inert.

A representative from AIM told the committee Tuesday that the group's issues with the bill were worked out and that the powerful organization is now backing the bill's passage.

The Committee heard a slew of other bills in the lengthy public hearing.

Rep. Denise Garlick offered a bill to prevent workplace violence that calls for an annual risk assessment for all employees at healthcare facilities. Employers would be mandated to put in place a plan to address the risk factors identified in the assessment and inform state officials of instances of assault and battery at health care facilities. The bill would also require an employee receive paid leave if they're the victim of workplace assault and battery.

Garlick's bill is backed by many hospital workers, who say their interaction with patients and the public can often turn violent.

Hospital groups have raised concerns that some rules put forward in the bill would duplicate or confuse other existing regulations for workplaces on the books.

Lawmakers also heard testimony on a bill to crack down on workplace bullying. It would grant workers the ability to challenge "abusive work environments" and would hold employers accountable for the actions of aggressive employees. Employers would not be able to retaliate against an employee who seeks relief under the law, which could result in removal of the abusive party from the workplace, back pay for the victim, damages, attorney's fees or other compensation.

The bill from Sen. Jennifer Flanagan would add anti-bullying protections for all workers, not just those already considered a "protected class" under the law. Versions of the bill were filed in 2011, 2013 and 2015, but all died in either committee or House proceedings.