New Pregnant Employee Law Expands Accommodation Protections

A new federal law expands the rights of pregnant employees in obtaining accommodations. Under the new law, employers must grant reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, even if the employee is not disabled as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Employers will be required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and applicants with temporary physical or mental limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth or related concerns, according to the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act that goes into effect in June. 

The new pregnancy act will require an employer, with 15 or more employees, to engage in good-faith conversations with an employee seeking reasonable accommodations about the employee’s needs and reasonable accommodation that could meet those needs. 

Absent undue hardship, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as more frequent breaks or modified duties, and will also be prohibited from retaliating against employees who request an accommodation. 

The nature of the accommodation may vary based on the employee’s needs and the hardship posed on the employer in meeting those needs. 

Previously, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act provided pregnant employees with the right to receive accommodations only if they could identify other similarly situated people in their workplace who received accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act only provided the right to reasonable accommodations if the worker had a pregnancy-related disability.

The pregnant worker law does not require a pregnant or postpartum employee to have a pregnancy-related disability to receive an accommodation. 

Contact Potomac Legal Group if you are facing any pregnancy related issues in the workplace. Our attorneys have experience representing employees in matters regarding pregnancy discrimination and disability accommodation. 

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