You may recall that we reported that United States Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would adopt the reasonable accommodation framework of the Americans with Disabilities Act for pregnant workers and supplement the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Although the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act appears to have stalled in Washington (for now), other pregnancy accommodation laws are popping up. Both New Jersey and the City of Philadelphia have recently passed such legislation.
On January 21, 2014, the New Jersey Pregnant Worker Fairness Act became law. The Act applies to essentially all employers in New Jersey. The Act provides additional protections for women working in New Jersey who may be affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The Act adds pregnancy to the traits protected by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
In addition, the Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees when it knows or should know that such accommodations are necessary, unless the proposed accommodation would cause an “undue hardship.’’ Potential accommodations may include restroom breaks, permission to carry a water bottle, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, modified work schedules, or a temporary transfer to work that is less physically demanding or hazardous.
On January 31, 2014 the City of Philadelphia amended its Fair Practices Ordinance: Protections Against Unlawful Discrimination, to require that employers provide reasonable workplace accommodations for employees who have "needs related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition." As with the New Jersey law, the amended Ordinance prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.
The amended Ordinance also provides that an employer must provide reasonable accommodations that may be necessary due to to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. The Ordinance states that a reasonable accommodation is an accommodation that will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of her job, unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship. Such accommodations could include restroom breaks, periodic rest for those who stand for long periods of time, assistance with manual labor, a leave of absence, reassignment and job restructuring.
Please note that the amended Ordinance also requires that employers in Philadelphia post a notice in conspicuous places, notifying employees of these rights.
Please make sure that you are aware of any state or local laws regarding the accommodation of issues related to pregnancy and childbirth in the areas in which you operate. Also be on the look out for any additional workplace posting requirements that may be required.