On July 27, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and bans termination or hiring discrimination against women based on pregnancy. The Act will go into effect on April 1, 2018.
Current disability protections do not cover women with healthy pregnancies. The Act amends Massachusetts’ current anti-discrimination law, Chapter 151B, so that it now includes pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, including breastfeeding and pumping milk. The Act applies disability standards to healthy pregnancies, requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business. The Act lists the following examples of reasonable accommodations “(i) more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks; (ii) time off to recover from childbirth with or without pay; (iii) acquisition or modification of equipment or seating; (iv) temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position; (v) job restructuring; (vi) light duty; (vii) private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk; (viii) assistance with manual labor; or (ix) modified work schedules.”
The Act also prohibits employers from taking adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation, from denying an employment opportunity to an employee because of the need to make a reasonable accommodation, and from refusing to hire a person who is pregnant because of the pregnancy or a related condition.