The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which went into effect on April 1, 2018, makes it unlawful for an employer in Massachusetts to discriminate against an employee due to pregnancy or a pregnancy related condition, including breast feeding.

What is unlawful under the Act?

  1. Taking an adverse action or retaliating against an employee who requests a reasonable accommodation. This includes failing to reinstate the employee to the original employment status or an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other applicable service credits when the need for reasonable accommodation ceases.
  2. Denying an employment opportunity to an employee based on the need of the employer to make a reasonable accommodation to known pregnancy related conditions.
  3. Requiring a pregnant employee or employee with a pregnancy related condition to accept an accommodation unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.
  4. Requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation may be provided without undue hardship on the employer.
  5. Refusing to hire a person who is pregnant because of the pregnancy or because of a condition related to the person’s pregnancy if the person is capable of performing the essential functions of the position with reasonable accommodations that do not impose an undue hardship on the employer.

Reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks; time off due to a pregnancy complication or recovery 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; and a modified work schedule.

Under the Act, an employer can only deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or condition related to the employee’s pregnancy if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose and undue hardship on the employer’s program, enterprise or business.

If you have any questions related to this topic and how it may affect you and your business, please contact a member of our corporate department for help.