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Pregnant Employees to Receive Additional Protections Beginning October 1st

On July 6, 2017, Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed into law “An Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace.”  The Act takes effect October 1, 2017, and amends the existing pregnancy discrimination statute.  

To understand the new law, one must first understand the existing state law.  Currently, it is unlawful for employers to:

  • Terminate a woman’s employment because of her pregnancy;
  • Refuse to grant the employee a reasonable leave of absence for disability resulting from her pregnancy;
  • Deny the employee who is disabled as a result of pregnancy, any compensation to which she is entitled as a result of the accumulation of disability or leave benefits accrual pursuant to plans maintained by the employer; and
  • Fail or refuse to reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits, and other credits upon her signifying her intent to return unless, in the case of a private employer, the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so.

    The definition of pregnancy now includes pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition, including, but not limited to lactation.  Before the new Act, lactation was not included.  The Act also expands a reasonable accommodation to include being permitted to sit while working, more frequent or longer breaks, periodic rest assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, light duty assignments, modified work schedule, temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, time off to recover form childbirth or break time and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk.  The Act further clarified the meaning of “undue hardship” to include action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as (A) the nature and cost of the accommodation; (B) the overall financial resources of the employer; (c) the overall size of the business of the employer with respect to the number of employees, and the number, type, and location of its facilities; and (D) the effect on expenses and resources or the impact otherwise of such accommodation upon the operation of the employer.

The Act also makes it unlawful for an employer to:

  • Limit, segregate or classify the pregnant employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy;
  • Discriminate against an employee or job applicant on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment;
  • Fail or refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or job applicant due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship;
  • Deny employment opportunities to an employee or job applicant if the denial is due to the request for a reasonable accommodation due to her pregnancy;
  • Force an employee or job applicant affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if she (i) does not have known limitation related to her pregnancy, or (ii) does not require a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential duties related to her employment;
  • Require an employee to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided in lieu of the leave; and
  • Retaliate against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of her employment based upon the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.

The Act also imposes a notice requirement on employers.  It requires employer to provide notice to (A) New employees at the commencement of employment; (B) existing employees within one hundred twenty days after October 1, 2017; and (C) any employee who notifies the employer of her pregnancy within ten days of such notification. An employer may comply with the provisions of Act by displaying a poster in a conspicuous place, accessible to employees, at the employer’s place of business that contains the information required by this section in both English and Spanish. 

In light of the new notice requirements, employers will need to communicate the Act to existing employees by January 28, 2018. The Act also creates compliance issues for employers who are subject to federal laws covering disabilities and pregnancy.  The required posters can be found here:    https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/gendocs/Labor_Posters.htm

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.