Maryland Pregnancy Accommodation Act
Employers Must Explore All Possible Accommodation Options
A new Maryland law is forcing employers to change how they treat pregnant employees who request special accommodations during their pregnancy. If an employee requests an accommodation, employers must now explore all possible options of providing a reasonable accommodation.
The law specifies several ways to accommodate an employee. An employer may change an employee’s job duties, work hours or work area. An employer may provide mechanical and electrical aids or transfer the employee to a less hazardous or strenuous position. Leave may be a reasonable accommodation where no other accommodation can be made.
Employers previously could take advantage of a small loophole between state and federal pregnancy discrimination laws. In those cases, employees with certain job duties, such as heavy lifting, could request a temporary assignment to a position with less physical activity. No law, however, required the employer to accommodate a pregnant employee if a less-strenuous position did not exist.
The law also mandates that Maryland employers post a notice of these rights. The posting language is available here.
Employers may not take any steps to retaliate against an employee who exercises her rights and requests an accommodation. An employer may not interfere with; restrain; deny the exercise; or deny an employee’s attempt to exercise the right.
States & Cities Adopting Accommodation Laws at a Quick Pace
California has led the way in enacting and developing case law that we are using as guidance in handling pregnancy accommodation matters. New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey and West Virginia have recently added their own accommodation acts. As this trend continues, we believe that most employees nationwide will eventually be covered by an accommodation law.
We are actively involved in client matters that include violations of the accommodation act. Our firm is among the first in Maryland to address these issues. Along with state commission officials and the courts, we are examining California’s pregnancy accommodation provisions for guidance.
As client claims are resolved, we will be able to advise you on how this new law plays into employment complaints, as well as its effects on damages and awards.
Counseling & Training
With our experience in handling cases under this new law, we are available to speak with you about any matter you have that involves providing accommodations or pregnancy discrimination. We cover accommodation issues in our employment law training program. Contact us anytime.