Free resources available from Washington state Attorney General’s Office
The state attorney general’s office has released a new guide for workers and employers on specific civil rights that pregnant employees enjoy under Washington state law.
The flyer outlines what pregnancy accommodation laws are, the rights that pregnant employees have in the workplace, which practices are prohibited for employers, and how pregnant employees can report pregnancy accommodation violations.
“A pregnant employee does not have to choose between her job and her health,” said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “The law provides protections for pregnant employees, and it’s important that they know their rights. If employers do not respect these rights, my office will hold them accountable.”
NFIB was engaged in bill drafting and negotiations during the 2016 and 2017 sessions. “As a result of NFIB’s efforts and that of former State Director Carolyn Logue, the new law excludes the smallest employers – those with fewer than 15 workers – and addresses legitimate needs of pregnant workers without causing undue cost or harm to small businesses,” said Washington State Director Patrick Connor.
“Moreover, the new law requires a dispute resolution conference prior to the attorney general’s office issuing a penalty for a violation, or a worker filing a lawsuit if an employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodations,” Connor added.
From the Attorney General’s News Release
In 2017, the Legislature passed the Healthy Starts Act. The act provides civil rights protections to pregnant employees at workplaces with more than 14 employees. Every employer must allow the following accommodations for pregnant employees, without requiring the employee to provide a written note from a healthcare professional:
- Provide frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks;
- Modify a no food or drink policy;
- Provide seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently; and
- Limit lifting to 17 pounds or less.
In addition to these accommodations, upon request, an employer must provide a pregnant employee additional accommodations if the request does not pose a significant difficulty or expense to employers. An employer may require a health care professional’s written certification for these accommodations:
- Job restructuring, including modifying a work schedule, job reassignment, changing a work station, or providing equipment;
- Providing a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position;
- Scheduling flexibility for prenatal visits; and
- Providing any further accommodations the employee may need.
Employers cannot retaliate against pregnant employees who request one of these changes, deny employment opportunities to pregnant employees who are otherwise qualified or require pregnant employees to take leave if an alternative is available.
Under the law, the Attorney General’s Office has the enforcement authority to respond to and resolve these complaints.
Free copies of the Attorney General’s Pregnant Workers’ Accommodation Rights flyer can be downloaded here.
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