BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that the Senate recently passed legislation to help ensure that pregnant workers are protected from discrimination in the workplace. The bill advanced from the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support.
“In addition to protecting the health of pregnant employees, the bill also promotes economic security for workers and their families,” said Senator Moore. “I have heard from many constituents who are supportive of this initiative and I’m proud to have cast a vote in favor of the bill.”
Under the legislation, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee or prospective employee due to pregnancy or a condition related to the pregnancy, such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.
Employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations for workers who are pregnant. At the request of a pregnant employee, employers must undergo a good faith and interactive process to determine an effective reasonable accommodation. Provisions include low cost modifications such as providing employees with a stool to sit on, allowing for more frequent bathroom breaks, allowing the worker to carry a bottle of water, or providing a private non-bathroom space for lactation. Employers are not required to provide accommodations that would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business.
In addition, employers are prohibited from refusing to hire a pregnant job candidate solely because the candidate requires a reasonable accommodation. Employers are not permitted to force pregnant employees to accept an accommodation that they do not want or to take leave if another reasonable accommodation may be provided.
“When we started this journey two years ago, MotherWoman and her allies knew that too many pregnant women were struggling without accommodations commonly given to other workers. Massachusetts legislators, on both sides of the aisle, heard us. So did the business community,” said Linda O’Connell, Executive Director of MotherWoman, an advocate for the bill. “We are proud to live in a state that can solve real problems for real people.”
The bill, H.3680, will now be reconciled with the House version of the bill, which was passed in May, before being sent to the Governor for his signature. To continue tracking the status of this legislation, please visit the Legislature’s website, www.malegislature.gov.