Maryland recently changed its laws regarding employer obligations to pregnant workers. The law is the Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy Act, and it will go into effect on October 1.
The law states that when a worker is considered disabled because of pregnancy, that employer must allow for reasonable accommodations.
The legislature enacted to law in response to a court case in which UPS had denied light-duty work for a pregnant worker. UPS' policy only permitted light-duty work under specific conditions such as for workers who became injured while on the job. The court ruled in favor of the employer, despite existing state and federal laws, and so the legislation passed a law that requires an employer to accommodate reasonable requests from pregnant workers over and above the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The meaning of "reasonable accommodations" is the heart of the new law. It provides that an employer with a pregnant worker who is unable to perform existing job duties must:
- Change the employee's job duties
- Accommodate varying work hours
- Relocate an employee's work area
- Provide reasonable mechanical and electrical aids
- Allowing the employee to perform less hazardous or strenuous job duties
- Provide leave
In addition to these reasonable accommodations, employers must treat pregnant women who are disabled because of their condition the same as other temporarily disabled employees with regard to leaves of absensces and payments of health benefits, disability and sick leave plans.
Employees who feel that they have been discriminated against because of their pregnancy should contact an experienced employment law attorney to discuss their legal options.
HR and Employment Law News, "Maryland creates new obligations for accommodating pregnant workers," Oct. 1, 2013