For many years, working mothers as well as expecting mothers have struggled to balance being a parent, or soon-to-be parent, and working a full-time job while still having to meet the demands of being pregnant and caring for a new-born child. Going through a pregnancy isn’t easy and often times these mothers require accommodations throughout the duration of their pregnancy from their employers to remain healthy.
Unfortunately, these accommodations weren’t always provided and many expecting mothers had to stop working just so they could experience a healthy pregnancy. Even after the baby was born, many mothers who opted to breastfeed struggled as they didn’t have the time or privacy at work to express breast milk for their baby.
Thankfully, all that has changed now that the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act has taken effect.
If you are an expecting parent or recently gave birth to your child in the state of Massachusetts, it is important you become aware of the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act, which recently went into effect on April 1, 2018. Not only is this Act geared toward protecting women who require certain accommodations because they are pregnant or may be nursing their child, but it prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions.
Some of the obligations an employer must abide by under the Act include:
- “Employers may not treat employees or job applicants less favorably than other employees based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions and have an obligation to accommodate pregnant workers.”
- When an employee requests that accommodations be provided, their employer has an obligation to communicate with the employee in order to determine a reasonable accommodation for the pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition. The process has been named the “interactive process” and it must be done in good faith.
- An employer is required to accommodate any conditions related to pregnancy which might include the need to express breast milk for a nursing child. The only time an employer may refuse the accommodation is if it poses an undue hardship on them. An undue hardship means that the accommodation would cause the employer significant difficulty or expense.
- An employer is prohibited from refusing to hire a pregnant job applicant or an applicant with a pregnancy-related condition given they are capable of performing the essential functions of the position with a reasonable accommodation.
- An employer cannot require that medical documentation be provided regarding the need for an accommodation if the accommodation requests are for: frequent restroom usage, water breaks, seating, limits on lifting no more than 20 pounds, or for a private, non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk.
You can visit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts site to read more of the requirements that have been set forth under the Act.
Because this Act has already taken effect, anyone who believes they have been discriminated against on the basis on their pregnancy or their pregnancy-related conditions should consider contacting an employment law attorney at Dinsmore Stark, Attorneys at Law. Because your employer or potential employer may have violated the law, you could have a viable case on your hands.
If you would like to learn more about how the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act can protect you in the event your employer has discriminated against you or you have another employment law related question, don’t hesitate to contact this firm at your earliest convenience.
You can reach Dinsmore Stark, Attorneys at Law at:
60 Masonic Street, Suite E
Northampton, MA 01060