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A new Connecticut law significantly enhances existing anti-discrimination protections for pregnant employees. "An Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace," signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy on July 6 and effective on Oct. 1, amends the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (the "CFEPA") to modify existing protections and add a host of new protections for pregnant employees. The act also provides broad definitions of the terms "pregnancy," "reasonable accommodation," and "undue hardship."
The CFEPA already included significant protections for pregnant employees that are unaffected by the act. Specifically, it is unlawful for an employer to:
The new act enhances these existing protections by declaring it unlawful for an employer to:
The act also provides definitions for "pregnancy," "reasonable accommodation," and "undue hardship." Specifically:
The act directs employers to provide employees with written notice "of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions, including the right to a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations related to pregnancy . . . ." Employers may comply with this mandate by displaying a poster in a conspicuous place, accessible to employees, at the workplace.
Takeaways for Employers
The new protections and definitions will present a host of compliance challenges as employers, courts and administrative agencies grapple with the boundaries of these new protections and attempt to harmonize them with existing laws.
Each situation will have to be analyzed separately for compliance and to determine an appropriate accommodation if one is requested.
In addition, employers must deal with the differing definitions of "pregnancy," "reasonable accommodation," and "undue hardship" under the CFEPA and its relevant federal counterparts, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
For example, under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnancy is limited to "pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions" and does not include the act's "including, but not limited to, lactation" language.
Similarly, when assessing whether a reasonable accommodation constitutes an "undue hardship," an employer must consider the differing factors set forth under both the ADA and the CFEPA.
Given the challenges associated with complying with the act's new requirements, consultation with experienced employment counsel is recommended.
Patricia E. Reilly and Matthew K. Curtin are attorneys with Littler in New Haven, Conn. © Littler. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.
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