Maine Enacts Law Extending Protections to Pregnant and Nursing Employees
On June 27, 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law L.D. 666, which extends existing protections for pregnant and nursing employees in Maine. The act, entitled “An Act to Protect Pregnant Workers,” creates broad protections for workers, covering any limitation of an employee’s ability to perform their job due to pregnancy, child birth, or related medical conditions including lactation. The act also amends existing provisions of 5 M.R.S.A. § 4572-A to make the section’s protections gender-neutral.
Of significance to Maine employers, the new law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions. Employers may only avoid providing these accommodations if they are able to demonstrate that the accommodation proposed would impose an undue hardship on the operation of their business. L.D. 666 sets out examples of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions. These include, but are not limited to, providing more frequent or longer breaks, temporary modifications in work schedules, seating or equipment, temporary relief from lifting requirements, temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous work, and provisions for lactation.
The new law does not substantially alter the already existing provisions of § 4572-A. These prohibit employers from treating pregnant workers who are able to work differently from other workers and requires employers to treat pregnancy-related conditions in the same manner as other disabilities or illnesses.
L.D. 666 will take effect on September 19, 2019.