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Legislature Expands Pregnancy Protections, Malloy Set To Sign

Just before the end of the legislative session, Public Act 17-118: An Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace, passed and is expected to be signed by the Governor.  Effective October 1st, this Bill amends Connecticut’s existing Pregnancy Discrimination Statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60 by expanding the employment protections provided to pregnant women and requiring employers to provide a reasonable workplace accommodations unless the employer demonstrates that the accommodation would be an undue hardship. The bill also prohibits employers from (1) limiting, segregating, or classifying an employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy or (2) forcing a pregnant employee or applicant to accept a reasonable accommodation if she does not need one. It also eliminates certain employment protection provisions related to transfers to temporary positions for pregnant workers.

The significant changes are as follows:

  • The definition of “pregnancy” is expanded to include “a related condition, including but not limited to, lactation.”
  • Frequent or longer breaks, periodic rest, sitting more and assistance with manual labor are considered “reasonable accommodations.”
  • Claiming undue hardship in providing a reasonable accommodation will require the employer to demonstrate four factors in order to deny the request:

A) The nature and cost of the accommodation

B) The Employer’s overall financial resources;

C) Size of the business including location and types of facilities; and

D) The expense and other impact on the employer for granting the accommodation.

The bill also requires employers to provide employees with written notice of their right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, including the right to a reasonable accommodation. Notice must be given to (1) new employees when they start work; (2) existing employees within 120 days of the bill’s effective date; and (3) any employee who notifies her employer of her pregnancy, within 10 days of her notification.  An employer may comply with the notice requirements by displaying a poster in a conspicuous place, accessible to employees, at the workplace with the required information in both English and Spanish.

When an employee raises issues concerning pregnancy accommodation or if you have questions about how to implement best practices based on this changing law, it is best to discuss plans with an experienced attorney.  Our team focuses exclusively on labor and employment issues and can provide assistance.