MCAD Issues Guidance on the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act becomes effective on April 1, 2018 and will be enforced by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. In anticipation, the Commission has issued a short Guidance that is available here, on Mass.gov. As highlighted in the Guidance, the Act expressly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such lactation or the need to express breast milk. Generally, employers may not treat employees – or job applicants – less favorably than other employees are treated based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions.
The Act provides pregnant women and new mothers with a right to reasonable accommodations from their employers for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions whether or not they have a “handicap” as defined by law. Employers cannot require medical documentation to support requests for accommodations regarding: (i) more frequent restroom, food or water breaks; (ii) seating; (iii) limits on lifting no more than 20 pounds; and (iv) private, non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk. An employer, may, however, request medical documentation for other requested accommodations.
The Act itself is available here.