Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Takes Effect April 1, 2018

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act amends the current statute prohibiting discrimination in employment, G.L. c. 151B, §4, enforced by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).

The Act, effective on April 1, 2018, expressly prohibits employment discrimination on the
basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child. It also describes employers’ obligations to employees that are pregnant or lactating and the protections these employees are entitled to receive. Generally, employers may not treat employees or job applicants less favorably than other employees based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions and have an obligation to accommodate pregnant workers.

Under the Act:

  • Upon request for an accommodation, the employer has an obligation to communicate with the employee in order to determine a reasonable accommodation for the pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition. This is called an “interactive process,” and it must be done in good faith. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment that allows the employee or job applicant to perform the essential functions of the job while pregnant or experiencing a pregnancy-related condition, without undue hardship to the employer.
  • An employer must accommodate conditions related to pregnancy, including post-pregnancy conditions such as the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship on the employer. “Undue hardship” means that providing the accommodation would cause the employer significant difficulty or expense.
  • An employer cannot require a pregnant employee to accept a particular accommodation, or to begin disability or parental leave if another reasonable accommodation would enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job without undue hardship to the employer.
  • An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant job applicant or applicant with a pregnancy-related condition, because of the pregnancy or the pregnancy-related condition, if an applicant is capable of performing the essential functions of the position with a reasonable accommodation.
  • An employer cannot deny an employment opportunity or take adverse action against an employee because of the employee’s request for or use of a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition.
  • An employer cannot require medical documentation about the need for an accommodation if the accommodation requested is for: (i) more frequent restroom, food or water breaks; (ii) seating; (iii) limits on lifting no more than 20 pounds; and (iv) private, non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk. An employer, may, owever, request medical documentation for other accommodations.
  • Employers must provide written notice to employees of the right to be free from discrimination due to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, in a handbook, pamphlet, or other means of notice no later than April 1, 2018.
  • Employers must also provide written notice of employees’ rights under the Act: (1) to new employees at or prior to the start of employment; and (2) to an employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, no more than 10 days after such notification.

As of today, there has not been any mandatory posters associated with this update that will be included in our posters. All in One Poster Company will continued to monitor this labor law update.

The foregoing is a synopsis of the requirements under the Act, and both employees and employers are encouraged to read the full text of the law available on the General Court’s website here:
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2017/Chapter54.

If you believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, you may file a formal complaint with the MCAD. You may also have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if the conduct violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both agencies require the formal complaint to be filed within 300 days of the discriminatory act.

Originally published by MCAD

NYC: Local Law Grants Caregivers Protections Under Nondiscrimination Law

Legislation Effective May 4, 2016

Under a new local law, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) prohibits employment discrimination based on an individual’s actual or perceived status as a caregiver. Under the NYCHRL, employers with 4 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, pregnancy, or marital status, among other protected classes.

Under the local law, “caregiver” means a person who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or a care recipient.

A “care recipient” is a person with a disability who:

  • Is a covered relative, or a person who resides in the caregiver’s household; and
  • Relies on the caregiver for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.

The local law contains additional definitions, and takes effect May 4, 2016.

Click here to read the text of the local law.

HR360 Editorial Team http://www.hr360.com

New York Enacts Several Civil Rights Measures Affecting the Workplace

Changes Take Effect January 19, 2016

New York has enacted a series of changes to its workplace nondiscrimination laws. The changes take effect on January 19, 2016. A summary of the key changes is presented below:

  • Expanded Coverage for Sexual Harassment Actions. A new lawprovides that the state nondiscrimination law’s prohibitions againstsexual harassment apply to all employers—regardless of size. (Prior to January 19, 2016, the provisions regarding sexual harassment are applicable to employers with 4 or more employees.)
  • Pay Equity and Sharing of Wage Information. An amended lawprovides that (among other things) an employer cannot prohibit an employee from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing his or her wages or the wages of another employee. However, an employer may—in a written policy provided to all employees—establish reasonable workplace and workday limitations on the time, place, and manner for such inquiries, discussions, or disclosures.
  • Discrimination Based on Family Status Prohibited. An amended law (applicable to employers with 4 or more employees) prohibits discrimination in employment based on familial status.
  • Clarification Regarding Pregnancy-Related Conditions. A new measure clarifies that employers with 4 or more employees are generally prohibited from refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to the known disabilities—or pregnancy-related conditions—of an employee/applicant in connection with a job or occupation sought or held. Additionally, pregnancy-related conditions must be treated as temporary disabilities under the law.

The governor’s office has issued a press release regarding the new legislation. Additional information regarding New York workplace nondiscrimination law is available from the New York State Division of Human Rights.

To review other state laws specific to New York, visit the State Lawssection, click on New York, and choose your topic of interest from the left-hand navigation menu.

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