In late May, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill that would vastly expand the pregnancy anti-discrimination statute in the state. Just days ago, the State Senate also approved the measure. The Governor is now expected to sign the bill.
Here’s an overview of the legislation…
Current state statute makes it unlawful to:
- terminate a woman’s employment because of her pregnancy.
- fail or refuse to reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other service credits upon her signifying her intent to return unless, in the case of a private employer, the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so.
- deny to that employee, who is disabled as a result of pregnancy, any compensation to which she is entitled as a result of the accumulation of disability or leave benefits accrued pursuant to plans maintained by the employer.
These elements will not change in the new bill.
Current law also makes it unlawful to:
- fail or refuse to inform employees of the employer, by any reasonable means, that they must give written notice of their pregnancy in order to be eligible for transfer to a temporary position.
- fail or refuse to make a reasonable effort to transfer a pregnant employee to any suitable temporary position which may be available in any case in which an employee gives written notice of her pregnancy to her employer and the employer or pregnant employee reasonably believes that continued employment in the position held by the pregnant employee may cause injury to the employee or fetus.
- fail or refuse to inform the pregnant employee that a transfer pursuant to subparagraph (E) of this subdivision may be appealed under the provisions of this chapter.
Under the House bill, those three provisions will be removed and replaced with the following – making it unlawful to:
- fail or refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or person seeking employment due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that such accommodation would impose an undue hardship on such employer.
- limit, segregate or classify the employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy.
- discriminate against an employee or person seeking employment on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment.
- deny employment opportunities to an employee or person seeking employment if such denial is due to the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation due to her pregnancy.
- force an employee or person seeking employment affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if such employee or person seeking employment (i) does not have a known limitation related to her pregnancy, or (ii) does not require a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential duties related to her employment.
- require an employee to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided in lieu of such leave; and
- retaliate against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of her employment based upon such employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.
The new legislation also defines “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship.”
- In the House bill, “Reasonable accommodation” means, “but shall not be limited to, being permitted to sit while working, more frequent or longer breaks, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, light duty assignments, modified work schedules, temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth or break time and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk.”
- Also in the new bill, “Undue hardship” means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as (A) the nature and cost of the accommodation; (B) the overall financial resources of the employer; (C) the overall size of the business of the employer with respect to the number of employees, and the number, type and location of its facilities; and (D) the effect on expenses and resources or the impact otherwise of such accommodation upon the operation of the employer.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and have questions about maternity laws, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. Each of us has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of employment and labor law and can help you with this complicated topic. Please contact us if we can help you.
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