Massachusetts recently passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which protects women from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and expressing milk. Effective April 1, 2018, it is unlawful for an employer to deny reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions upon request unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.

On the flip side, the Act also makes it unlawful to require a pregnant or nursing job applicant or employee to accept an accommodation, including requiring an employee to take leave when there are other accommodations available that would not cause an undue hardship to the employer. The Act makes it unlawful to take adverse action against an employee who requests an accommodation, and mandates that the employee must be reinstated to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and benefits upon return from leave. The Act makes it unlawful to make pre-employment inquiries regarding the applicant’s condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

What does this mean for you? Starting April 1, 2018, Massachusetts employers must post a notice, through a handbook, pamphlet or other means, of the rights of pregnant and nursing mothers to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions.

The Act also provides examples of what qualifies as a reasonable accommodation including but not limited to: more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks; time off to attend to a pregnancy complication or recover from childbirth, with or without pay; acquisition or modification of equipment or seating; a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position; job restructuring; light duty; private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk; assistance with manual labor; and modification of work schedule.

For more legal updates, check out our update for September 2017!

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