A new Massachusetts law went into effect on Sunday that requires employers to offer "reasonable accommodations" to pregnant workers and makes it illegal to fire or refuse to hire a worker because of pregnancy.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill in July 2017. A 1970 federal law says employers can't discriminate against pregnant employees, but says nothing about accommodations.
So what does the law mean for employers and their pregnant employees?
- Pregnancy cannot be a reason to fire or not hire someone.
- Employers must allow for "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant workers, which could be anything from a stool to sit on, extra bathroom breaks, or switching a pregnant employee to lighter duty.
- Employers must also accommodate for breastfeeding, with a dedicated, private space for nursing or pumping.
Shelia Hubbard, of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, told WBUR the law will improve safety for pregnant workers and their babies.
"Pregnant women were really being asked to choose between having a healthy pregnancy and bring a baby to term, or keeping their job," she said.
With reporting by WBUR's Sharon Brody