This is a quick reminder that in Massachusetts, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will become effective on April 1. In essence, the MPWFA forbids those who employ six or more employees from denying reasonable accommodations requested for pregnancy related conditions, including lactation or the need to express breast milk. An employer may deny an accommodation if it can demonstrate that it would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s program, enterprise or business.
The Act also prohibits an employer from (a) taking adverse actions against an employee who requests a reasonable accommodation, (b) denying an employment opportunity if the denial is based upon the need to make a reasonable accommodation, (c) requiring an employee to accept an accommodation that is unnecessary for the employee to perform the essential functions of her job, (d) requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation will not impose an undue hardship on the employer’s program, enterprise or business, or (e) refusing to hire a person who is pregnant or because of a pregnancy related condition, provided the applicant is capable of performing the essential functions of the position with a reasonable accommodation that would not impose a demonstrable undue hardship on the employer’s program, enterprise or business.
Upon notice from an applicant for employment or an employee that an accommodation may be needed, the employer is obligated to engage in an interactive process with the employee similar to that which is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Notice of the Act must be provided to all employees.