In late July 2017, Massachusetts joined a growing list of states expanding protections for pregnant women in the workplace when it enacted the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) (set to take effect on April 1, 2018). The PWFA amends the state anti-discrimination law, General Laws Chapter 151B, to include additional protections and entitlements for pregnant women and new mothers at work not previously included under existing federal and state law.
The Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on pregnancy and nursing, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation for expectant and new mothers regardless of their disability status. This is great news for pregnant women and new mothers because the right to accommodation is no longer attached to having a medical condition that qualifies as a disability. Women with healthy pregnancies can now receive accommodation as well. Reasonable accommodations may include less strenuous workloads, altered work schedules, more frequent breaks to eat, drink or use the restroom, time off to recover from childbirth, temporary transfers to easier jobs, lifting restrictions, and private nursing space. Same as with the provision of reasonable accommodations for a disability, an employer must provide needed reasonable accommodations unless it presents an undue hardship on the employer.
If you are a pregnant worker or new parent in Massachusetts and want to learn more about your rights and how the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act impacts you, contact Swartz Law today.