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News Flash: CHRO Releases Guidance on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Related Conditions at Work

At the end of April, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights (CHRO), the Connecticut state agency tasked with enforcing the anti-employment discrimination laws, released new guidance for employers on pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions at work. 

For conspiracy theorists like us, the timing of the guidance is interesting.  The guidance addresses topics such as lactation accommodations and engaging in a “cooperative dialogue” – all issues New York City very recently addressed and on which it provided guidance.  Does Connecticut think it might look bad?  Nonetheless, the Connecticut guidance provides some helpful tips for employers.

Important points that were raised:

  • As a reminder, an employer must provide an employee who notifies them she is pregnant of her rights within 10 days of notification. The required notice can be found here: https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/gendocs/Pregnancy%20Disability%20Poster.pdf;
  • It is unlawful for an employer to joke about a pregnant worker’s weight gain and then to respond to the worker’s complaints about the jokes by claiming that the worker is “overly sensitive” and “emotional;”
  • It is unlawful to force an employee or applicant to accept a reasonable accommodation if they do not have a known limitation related to their pregnancy or do not require an accommodation. For instance, the employer cannot prevent a pregnant worker from picking up a heavy box out of fear it will hurt the baby.  The employer cannot send a worker home in order to protect the baby;
  • The employer is required to provide a lactation room in close proximity to the worker’s work area. The room should, at a minimum, provide a place to sit, a flat surface for a pump or other pumping equipment, an outlet for electricity, and the room should be near running water suitable for the employee to clean pumping equipment.  The employer should also provide access to a refrigerator for storing breast milk;
  • The employer may require an employee to provide a medical certification for a reasonable leave of absence. However, the employer must give the employee advance notice of this requirement and must allow the employee at least fifteen (15) days or as long as is reasonably needed to comply with the medical certification requirement;
  • Individuals undergoing fertility treatment are entitled to unpaid leave or a modified or flexible work schedule to attend appointments.

Employers in Connecticut should review the guidance and ensure their current practices are in compliance.  Employers should also train managers to ensure they are responding appropriately and in a timely fashion when requests for a reasonable accommodation arise related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. 

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on civil rights issues and employment laws in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.