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New Pregnancy Law Effective in Connecticut in October 2017

CWEALF staff welcoming coworker Melinda Johnson back to work after having her first baby 

 

It’s simple; pregnant women need to work without any discrimination. Earlier this year, the Connecticut legislature passed PA 17-118: An Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibited employers from discriminating pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. It also required employers to provide unpaid leave for childbirth. With the enactment of PA 17-118, Connecticut will again strengthen its protections and stance against workplace discrimination.

Starting October 1, 2017, it will be unlawful to:

  • Limit, segregate or classify the pregnant employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy;
  • Discriminate against an employee or job applicant on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment;
  • Fail or refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or job applicant due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship;
  • Deny employment opportunities to an employee or job applicant if the denial is due to the request for a reasonable accommodation due to her pregnancy;
  • Force an employee or job applicant affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if she (i) does not have 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 the leave; and
  • Retaliate against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of her employment based upon the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.

No woman should be forced to choose between her physical and emotional health during pregnancy, and the job she needs to secure her finances for the future of her family.  Pregnancy affects women in different ways - some women experience no or very few limitations that affect their ability to work, while others may experience limitations that lead to the need for accommodations. The accommodations in the bill include allowing an employee to sit while working, longer breaks, job restrictions, time off to recover from childbirth, break time, and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk. These accommodations will improve employee retention and workplace safety and will increase productivity and diversity in our state’s workforce.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 31,000 cases of pregnancy discrimination from 2011-2015. Black women are disproportionately impacted by pregnancy discrimination in these cases. This not only shows that pregnancy discrimination is still an issue women face today; it also shows that racial discrimination has a negatively impacts women in the workplace.

Working women are essential to their community and the economy. Many Connecticut women are responsible for the economic stability of their families, especially the 172,000 women in our state who are the primary breadwinner of their households. Protections provided under PA 17-118: An Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace will allow them to grow professionally and not experience setbacks in their career.

This bill makes me proud to live in the state of Connecticut, a state that supports the financial, physical, and emotional well-being of women who are starting or growing their families. This bill instills equity in the workplace and gives me comfort to know that when I do decide to start a family, my job and economic security will not be in jeopardy.


By Rebecca Yungk, MSW Intern at 29 Sep 2017, 13:18 PM

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