Pregnancy Discrimination & Accommodations
In 2014, Minnesota added sweeping new protections for pregnant women in the workplace.
As part of a larger package of reforms, the Women's Economic Security Act (WESA) strengthened workplace protections and flexibility for pregnant women and nursing mothers, expanded employment opportunities for women in high-wage, high-demand occupations, and reduced the gender pay gap through increased enforcement of equal pay laws.
With regard to pregnancy anti-discrimination and accommodations in the workplace, WESA requires that:
- Pregnant employees be entitled to these accommodations without providing a doctor’s note or any other “proof” the accommodation is necessary:
- More frequent restroom breaks or food and water breaks;
- Seating arrangements on the job; and
- A limit on lifting more than 20 pounds.
- An employer must actively engage with an employee to find other ways to accommodate her during her pregnancy, provided the accommodation does not pose any undue hardship on the employer.
- The employer cannot require a pregnant employee to accept any of these accommodations if she does not want them.
- The pregnancy accommodation requirements only apply to employers that employ 21 or more employees at one site. However, discrimination because of pregnancy is prohibited regardless of the employer's size.
WESA also provides protections for nursing mothers:
- An employer of any size must provide reasonable, unpaid break time each day to any employee who needs to express milk for her child. However, the employer is not required to provide the break time if doing so would unduly disrupt the employer's operations.
- The employer must provide a space to express milk that is:
- in close proximity to the work area;
- in a room other than a bathroom or toilet stall;
- shielded from view;
- free from intrusion from coworkers and the public; and
- is accessible to an electrical outlet.
- The nursing mother laws apply to all employers regardless of size.
If you have questions about your rights as a new or expecting mother, don’t hesitate to contact us.