Pregnancy & The Workplace – Making Accommodations

At Bryant, Lovlien & Jarvis, we know that your business is not limited to work alone. The workplace is a dynamic place where employers frequently respond to many aspects of their employees’ lives. This sometimes includes employees experiencing limitations in their ability to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, including lactation (“qualifying limitations”).

The 2019 Legislature recognized this reality and enacted HB 2341. This new law requires employers with 6 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for these qualifying limitations starting on January 1, 2020. The accommodations include at least the following:

• Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices;
• More frequent or longer break periods or periodic rest;
• Assistance with manual labor; or
• Modification of work schedules or job assignments.

Once a qualifying employer knows that a job applicant or an employee has one of these qualifying limitations, that employer must not engage in conduct that violates the new law, including but not limiting to: denying employment opportunities; failing or refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation unless it results in an undue hardship; engaging in discrimination or retaliation if an accommodation is inquired about, requested, or used; or requiring an employee to take family leave when a reasonable accommodation could be implemented instead. In essence, employers cannot punish or wrongfully change an employee’s or applicant’s terms of employment as a result of pregnancy or having a child.

HB 2341 also requires employers to post signs, sometimes called a workplace accommodations notice, providing employees with notice of HB 2341’s protections. Employers must also provide written notice of these protections to: (1) a new employee when hired; (2) existing employees within 180 days of January 1, 2020; and (3) an existing employee within 10 days of that existing employee informing the employer of that employee’s pregnancy.

Complying with this new law can be complicated. It may sometimes even necessitate making a fact-specific inquiry to ensure you are complying with these protections. Heather Hansen and Jeremy Green are experienced employment law attorneys that can help you navigate these provisions in a timely and thoughtful manner. Please give BLJ a call today to see how we can be of service for your business.

Article by Brent Wilkins

* This summary of HB 2341 is prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is also not a full analysis of the new law, and each person, organization, or other entity should contact his, her, or its legal advisor for a complete legal analysis of all applicable authority.

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