HR Alert

MA Enacts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Law Provides Reasonable Accommodation and Notice Requirements

Massachusetts has enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which takes effect April 1, 2018. Highlights of the law are presented below.

Discrimination Prohibited

The law is applicable to employers with 6 or more employees and generally prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy or a condition related to said pregnancy (e.g., lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child).

Reasonable Accommodation

It is an unlawful practice for a covered employer to deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee's pregnancy or any condition related to pregnancy, if the employee so requests. However, there is an exception if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would cause it reasonable accommodation. It is also an unlawful practice to (among reasonable accommodation):

  • Take adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment;
  • Deny an employment opportunity to an employee, if such denial is based on the employer's need to make a reasonable accommodation to the known conditions related to the employee's pregnancy; or
  • Require an employee affected by pregnancy (or a condition related to pregnancy) to accept an accommodation that the employee chooses not to accept-if such accommodation is unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

Interactive Process

Upon request for an accommodation from the employee or prospective employee capable of performing the essential functions of the position involved, the employee or prospective employee and the employer must engage in a timely, good faith, and interactive process to determine an effective, reasonable accommodation to enable the employee or prospective employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

Click here (Sect. 1E(c)) for information regarding certification, including certain accommodations for which the employer may not require certification.

Notice

Written notice of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to the employee's pregnancy (including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy) must be distributed to employees. The notice must be provided in a handbook, pamphlet, or other means of notice to all employees including, but not limited to:

  • New employees at or prior to the commencement of employment; and
  • An employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy or of a condition related to the employee's pregnancy, within 10 days of such notification.

An employer must provide written notice in a handbook, pamphlet, or by other means to its employees of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, under the law (Sect. 1E) on or before April 1, 2018.

Click here to read the text of the law.


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