Delaware Latest State to Enact Law Requiring Accommodations for Pregnant Employees

The tide that is sweeping the country of expanding pregnant women’s rights in the workplace has just crested in the first state. Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) this week signed a law that would ensure that pregnant workers receive such reasonable and fair accommodations to stay on the job.

Under the Delaware Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, employers have to grant reasonable accommodations to women who are experiencing medical limitations as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, including lactation, unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship for the employer.

According to a fact sheet on the law, such accommodations might include:

  • Providing a stool to a pregnant employee experiencing swelling of the legs as a result of standing for an entire shift;
  • Modifying a no-food-or-drink policy so that an employee can drink water to prevent painful and potentially dangerous uterine contractions;
  • Reassigning occasional heavy lifting duties for a pregnant employee who has been advised not to lift more than 20 pounds by her health care  provider; or
  • Allowing a pregnant worker to fill an alternative, available position for which she is qualified if her current position imposes particular medical risks to her pregnancy.

The law also prohibits employers from:

  • penalizing a pregnant employee because she needs this sort of reasonable accommodation.
  • requiring a pregnant  employee to accept changes to her work when the pregnant employee does not need any modification to do her job.
  • forcing a pregnant employee to take paid or unpaid leave when another reasonable accommodation would allow her to continue to work.
  • making accommodations or benefits available to workers with on-the-job  injuries, disabilities, or other limitations while excluding pregnant workers from these same accommodations or benefits.

Employers must provide notice to employees of these rights.

 

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