September 20, 2021

Volume XI, Number 263

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September 20, 2021

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Louisiana Enacts New Pregnancy Accommodation Law

Starting this month, Louisiana employers with 25 or more employees are required to accommodate pregnant employees and applicants in ways not required under federal law or previous state law. While pregnancy alone is not considered a “qualifying disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Louisiana now essentially puts pregnancy in that category. The state sets forth the following requirements for Louisiana employers:

  • Make existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by an applicant or employee with covered limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

  • Provide scheduled, more frequent, or longer compensated break periods.

  • Provide more frequent bathroom breaks.

  • Provide a private place, other than a bathroom stall, for the purpose of expressing breast milk (though an employer is not required to construct a permanent dedicated space for expressing breast milk).

  • Modify food or drink policies.

  • Provide seating or allow the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires the employee to stand.

  • Provide assistance with manual labor and set limits on lifting.

  • Temporarily transfer the employee to a less strenuous or less hazardous vacant position, if she is qualified.

  • Provide job restructuring or light duty, if available.

  • Acquire or modify equipment or devices necessary for performing essential job functions and/or modifying work schedules.

An employee’s limitations have to be known to the employer, i.e., either through observation or communication by the employee. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Louisiana law that addresses whether the removal of a job’s essential functions is required by the employer. The same is not required under the ADA. Each case will have to be analyzed on its own facts. Under the new law, “undue hardship” related to the reasonable accommodation duty has the same meaning it has under the ADA.

Per the original statute, employers do not have to create a position that does not already exist (including light duty), unless the employer has a past practice of doing that for other employees who needed accommodations. Employers are not required to discharge or bump another employee to make accommodations. Finally, an employer cannot refuse to select a pregnant employee for training or a program that would lead to a promotion if the employee can complete the training or program at least three months prior to her pregnancy leave.

Of course, employers are still required to provide a reasonable leave of absence of at least six weeks for a normal pregnancy and/or childbirth, and up to four months if the employee is disabled on account of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.

A notice regarding these new obligations must be posted in the workplace by Dec. 1, 2021. It is anticipated that the Louisiana Workforce Commission will create and publish a model notice for employers to post. Applicants are to be notified of this new requirement at time of hire, although it is not clear whether this is an immediate obligation or also required by Dec. 1. It may be safer to put something in the new-hire packet now. If anyone has any questions in this regard, please give me a call.

© 2021 Jones Walker LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 217
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About this Author

Sidney Lewis Labor Lawyer Jones Walker New Orleans
Partner

Sid Lewis is a partner and leader of the Labor & Employment Practice Group, where he consults and advises management and human resources personnel with respect to employment and labor laws.


Sid advises clients throughout the United States in all industries, including retail, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, and service industries. A majority of his work involves general advice to employers on a variety of employment situations, including discipline, terminations, applications, leave requests, transfers, noncompete agreements, trade secret information,...

504.582.8352
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