Massachusetts Adopts Legislation to Protect Pregnant Workers.

On July 27th Governor Baker signed into law the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act which creates new protections for pregnant workers in the Commonwealth. 

The new law requires employers, upon request by a pregnant employee, to offer reasonable accommodations for an employee’s pregnancy or any condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, so long as making the accommodation would not impose undue hardship on the employer.   

The law requires employers to engage in a timely, good faith and interactive process with pregnant workers to determine effective reasonable accommodations that would enable such employees to perform the essential functions of their job.  As listed in the law, reasonable accommodations include, but are 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, 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, or modified work schedules.

Employers are not permitted to force pregnant employees to accept an accommodation that she does not want, nor to take leave if another reasonable accommodation could be provided.  The law also prohibits employers from taking adverse action against existing or potential employees for asserting their rights under this law.

Employers are required to provide written notification to all employees of their rights under this new law on or before its effective date of April 1, 2018.