MA is latest of 19 states to pass laws protecting pregnant and nursing mothers

Dive Brief:

  • Nineteen states now have laws protecting pregnant women and nursing mothers, Engineering News-Record (ENR) reports.
  • The Massachusetts House passed a bill on May 10 requiring employers to provide nursing mothers with a private, non-bathroom area. The bill also requires employers to provide mothers with reasonable accommodations, such as a lighter workload, unless the employer would face undue hardship. The state’s Senate is expected to approve the bill.
  • According to ENR, the states’ laws extend protections for pregnant and nursing mothers beyond federal law, and most of them — 13 out of the 19 — were passed within the last four years.

Dive Insight:

Legal protection for pregnant women and nursing mothers is yet another area of employment law in which states have taken their own measures. That growing list includes paid family leave, “ban the box” and pay equity laws.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers in traditionally male-dominated jobs, such as construction or architecture, might require private areas to take care of maternal issues, like pumping breast milk. They will almost certainly need to be given less strenuous tasks and assignments in addition to more frequent breaks.

Kathleen Dobson, safety director at Alberici Constructors, told ENR that some employers don’t understand the federal rules; employers might not even know that pregnant workers are considered disabled under the law and therefore entitled to reasonable accommodations. Wal-Mart employees recently sued the company for denying pregnant workers the same reasonable accommodations as other disabled workers.

With 13 out of 19 states passing laws protecting pregnant women and nursing mothers within a relatively short time, more states will likely follow. Employers must monitor possible changes in their own state’s laws, which often are more extensive than federal law.

Source: HR Dive

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