Tag Archives: pregnant employees

NEW LAW: Pregnancy Accommodation Now Required For Pittsburgh Employees And Partners

Pittsburgh employers should be aware that the City Council just passed a new ordinance expanding protections for pregnant employees. The ordinance will impact private employers with requirements similar to Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Americans with Disabilities act and other related EEOC guidance.

In an unprecedented move, Pittsburgh’s ordinance is one of the first cities to extend protections for partners of pregnant women. Partner is defined broadly to mean a person of any gender with whom a pregnant woman has a relationship of mutual emotional and/or physical support (and does not require a marital or domestic relationship).

The new ordinance amends section 659.02 of Article V, Chapter 659 of the Pittsburgh City Code, providing further protections by making pregnancy its own protected class. Additionally, it extends the laws anti-discrimination provisions to partners of pregnant employees. Continue reading NEW LAW: Pregnancy Accommodation Now Required For Pittsburgh Employees And Partners

NEW CASE: Federal Court Finds Pregnancy Discrimination Act Protects Breastfeeding

In a recent decision (Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently found that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) bars discrimination not only on the basis of pregnancy, but also on the basis of pregnancy-related physiological conditions such as breastfeeding.

The Case

In this case, the plaintiff was a female police officer who had returned from maternity leave.  Upon her return, the officer requested an alternative duty because her doctor informed her that wearing the required bulletproof vest could cause infection and prevent her from breastfeeding.  The officer had requested to be assigned to a position where wearing a bulletproof vest was not required and the employer refused.  As a result, the officer resigned and filed a lawsuit.

The Holding

The court held that the employer’s refusal to accommodate this employee constituted discrimination under the PDA.  In making this decision, the Court likened the officer’s situation to that of the employee in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. (where the U.S. Supreme Court held the PDA bars employers from refusing to accommodate pregnant employees when they provide accommodations for similarly situated employees who are not pregnant.)  Here, the officer was able to show that her employer had provided alternative duties to employees with temporary injuries.  As a result, the Court held the employer’s failure to provide the officer with an alternative duty constituted pregnancy discrimination.

Take Home for Employers

The key for employers to remember here is that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is more expansive than one might initially assume.  Specifically, even if an employee’s pregnancy (or pregnancy-related condition) does not amount to a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the employer still might be required to provide the employee with an accommodation under the PDA.

NOTE:  There are also many state laws that provide protections for pregnant employees.  Before refusing accommodation to a pregnant employee and/or taking any adverse action against that employee, be sure to review the laws in your state.

NEW LAWS – Three New Laws Going Into Effect on October 1, 2017

Attention Connecticut employers — There are three new employment laws going into effect on October 1, 2017, which will affect your workplace.  Are you ready to comply with the following new laws?

Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace

The most significant new law going into effect is the Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace.  This law amends the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) to add additional protections for pregnant employees.

Under the previous version of the CFEPA, it is unlawful for an employer to:

  • Terminate an employee because she is pregnant;
  • Refuse to provide an employee who is disabled because of her pregnancy with a reasonable leave of absence (i.e. pregnancy disability leave);
  • Deny an employee who is disabled because of her pregnancy any compensation to which she is entitled as a result of the accumulation of disability or leave benefits accrued pursuant to plans maintained by the employer;
  • Fail or refuse to reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other service credits upon her signifying her intent to return unless, in the case of a private employer, the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so.

Under the amended CFEPA, employers are also prohibited from:

  • Limiting, segregating or classifying the employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy;
  • Discriminating against an employee or person seeking employment on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment;
  • Failing or refusing to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or person seeking employment due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that such an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer;
  • Denying employment opportunities to an employee or person seeking employment if such denial is due to the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation due to her pregnancy;
  • Forcing an employee or person seeking employment affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if such employee or person seeking employment:
    • does not have a known limitation related to her pregnancy, or
    • does not require a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential duties related to her employment;
  • Requiring an employee to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided in lieu of such leave; and
  • Retaliating against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of her employment based upon such employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.

Employers are also required to post the new Pregnancy Discrimination Poster in a prominent please in the workplace.  This notice must also be provided to employees as follows:

  • To all existing employees by January 28,2018;
  • To an existing employee within 10 days after she notifies the employer of her pregnancy or related conditions; and
  • To new employees upon commencing employment.

The poster is available in English and Spanish on the Connecticut Department of Labor website.

An Act Concerning the Provision of Notice of a Claim for Compensation by an Employee to an Employer or a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner

This new law is intended to “streamline” the workers’ compensation claims notice process “to ensure that an employer is expeditiously made aware of any workers’ compensation claim made by an employee.”

Under the current law, employers are required to provide a response within 28 days of the receipt of a workers’ compensation claim.  If the employer does not meet this deadline, there is an automatic presumption that full liability for the claim has been acknowledged by the business. The current method has several problems – including:

  • Claims being delivered to a general address,
  • Claims being lost after mailing with no proof of ever having been mailed, or
  • Claims taking extra time to reach the benefits administrator and delaying a company’s response.

The new law attempts to address these issues in the following ways:

  • Employers may choose to post a notice that designates a mailing address where claims for workers’ compensation must be sent. If an employer choses this option, the employer must –
    • Post the notice in the same prominent location as all other workplace posters
    • Provide the designated mailing address to the Connecticut Department of Labor (which will then list the address on its website) and provide any updates to the address.

If the employer follows the above process, then the 28-day period only begins on the date that the notice of a claim is received at that address (in other words, if the employee sends to a different address, the countdown does not start).

  • Employees must mail the notice of claim for workers’ compensation benefits to their employers by certified mail.

Act Concerning the Interstate Passenger Carrier Law

This new law makes certain professional drivers exempt from coverage under the state’s unemployment law.   This exemption applies to drivers under a contract with another party, if that driver:

  • Drives a vehicle that —
    • can transport at least eight passengers, including the driver, and
    • has a gross vehicle weight rating over 6,000 pounds;
  • Owns the vehicle or holds it under a “commercially reasonable” bona fide lease that is not with the contracting party or a related entity;
  • Is paid based on factors that can include mileage-based rates, a percentage of any rate schedules, time spent driving, or a flat fee;
  • Can refuse to work without consequence and can accept work from many contractors without consequence; and
  • Is not considered an employee under the unemployment law’s “ABC Test.”

The benefit for employers, these drivers will not accrue unemployment benefits for their service, and businesses using these drivers are not required to pay unemployment taxes.

NEW LAW – Connecticut Extends Additional Protections to Pregnant Employees

On July 6, 2017, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed House Bill 6668 (“An Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace”) into law. This new law expands the anti-discrimination protections for pregnant employees in Connecticut under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA).

The current version of the CFEPA already provides protections for pregnant employees. Specifically, employers are prohibited from:

  • Terminating an employee because she is pregnant;
  • Refusing to provide an employee who is disabled because of her pregnancy with a reasonable leave of absence (i.e. pregnancy disability leave);
  • Denying an employee who is disabled because of her pregnancy any compensation to which she is entitled as a result of the accumulation of disability or leave benefits accrued pursuant to plans maintained by the employer;
  • Failing or refusing to reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other service credits upon her signifying her intent to return unless, in the case of a private employer, the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so.

Under the amended law, employers are also prohibited from:

  • Limiting, segregating or classifying the employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy;
  • Discriminating against an employee or person seeking employment on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment;
  • Failing or refusing to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or person seeking employment due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that such an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer;
  • Denying employment opportunities to an employee or person seeking employment if such denial is due to the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation due to her pregnancy;
  • Forcing an employee or person seeking employment affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if such employee or person seeking employment:
    • does not have a known limitation related to her pregnancy, or
    • does not require a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential duties related to her employment;
  • Requiring an employee to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided in lieu of such leave; and
  • Retaliating against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of her employment based upon such employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.

The amended law also provides the following definitions:

  • “Pregnancy” means pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition, including, but not limited to, lactation;
  • “Reasonable accommodation” means, but shall not be limited to, being permitted to sit while working, more frequent or longer breaks, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, light duty assignments, modified work schedules, temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth or break time and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk; and
  • “Undue hardship” means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as
    • the nature and cost of the accommodation;
    • the overall financial resources of the employer;
    • the overall size of the business of the employer with respect to the number of employees, and the number, type and location of its facilities; and
    • the effect on expenses and resources or the impact otherwise of such accommodation upon the operation of the employer.

Finally, under the new law, employers are required to provide all employees with a written notice explaining their “right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions, including the right to a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations related to pregnancy.” Employers can comply with this requirement by posting a poster in a prominent place in the workplace.

The new law goes into effect on October 1, 2017. It is recommended that employers review their policies and procedures relating to pregnant employees and update those policies/procedures as necessary to comply with the new law. In addition, employers must be prepared to post the new notice starting October 1st.

New Utah Law Requires Employers to Provide Reasonable Accommodation to Pregnant Employees

The Utah Antidiscrimination Act already prohibited employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions, but a newly enacted amendment to that Act (Senate Bill 59) now requires Utah employers to provide reasonable accommodation for pregnant employees.

Under the new law, an employer is prohibited from:

  1. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee related to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related conditions if the employee has requested an accommodation;
  2. Requiring an employee to terminate employment (or take a leave of absence) if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to accommodate the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related condition; and,
  3. Denying employment opportunities to an employee, if the denial is based on the employee’s need for a reasonable accommodations related to her pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related conditions.

An employer may be excused from providing reasonable accommodation to an employee for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related conditions if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would create an undue hardship on the operations of the employer. An “undue hardship” is defined in the Act as “a requirement that would cause the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s operations.”

Employers may require the employee to provide certification from the employee’s health care provider concerning the medical advisability of a reasonable accommodation. If a certification is required by the employer, it shall include the following elements:

  1. The date the reasonable accommodation becomes medically advisable;
  2. The probable duration of the reasonable accommodation; and
  3. An explanatory statement as to the medical advisability of the reasonable accommodation.

Employers may not require an employee to provide medical certification for “minor” accommodations (e.g. the need for more frequent restroom, food, or water breaks). In addition, employers are not required to permit the employee to have her child at the workplace for purposes of accommodating pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions.

Finally, the new law requires employers to notify employees of their rights to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions. This notice may be given by including a provision in the employee handbook relating or by posting a written notice in a conspicuous place in the workplace.

Recommendation for Utah employers

In light of this new law, Utah employers should consider either (1) adding a pregnancy-related reasonable accommodation policy to their employee handbooks or (2) developing a written notice advising employees of their rights under this law.