New requirements for pregnant and nursing workers in Maine take effect September 19, 2019 under An Act to Protect Pregnant Workers. This law broadens existing protections under Maine law and covers limitations of an employee’s ability to perform the functions of a job due to pregnancy-related conditions.
A pregnancy-related condition covered by the act is defined as a known limitation of an employee’s ability to perform the functions of a job due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, including but not limited to lactation.
Reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions required. This act makes it unlawful employment discrimination for an employer to fail upon request to provide a reasonable accommodation to any employee with a pregnancy-related condition, unless it can be demonstrated that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. Required reasonable accommodations for a pregnancy-related condition may include, but are not limited to:
- providing more frequent or longer breaks;
- temporary modification in work schedules, seating or equipment;
- temporary relief from lifting requirements;
- temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous work; and
- provisions for lactation.
This act also makes protections gender neutral.
Maine law currently prohibits employers from treating pregnant employees who are able to work differently from others who are able to work and also requires treating employees with pregnancy-related conditions who are not able to work the same as other employees not able to work because of other disabilities or illnesses.
Employers should review their policies and practices for compliance with this new law.
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