Maine Expands Protections for Pregnant Workers

Maine extends existing protections for pregnant and nursing employees

A pregnant woman working in the office

Maine’s employers are facing a new law that requires employers to accommodate mothers-to-be unless it creates an undue hardship for employers. The law adds to the protections against pregnancy discrimination already on the state’s books. 

Gov. Janet Mills signed An Act to Protect Pregnant Workers on June 27, 2019. The law requires that employers must provide reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. 

Reasonable accommodations for a pregnancy-related condition can include:

  • More frequent or longer breaks
  • Temporary modification in work schedules, seating, or equipment
  • Temporary relief from lifting requirements
  • Temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work 
  • Provisions for breastfeeding. 

The law went into effect on Sept. 18, 2019.

Earlier this year, Kentucky’s pregnancy accommodation requirements went into effect. So far, 27 states, several cities, and Washington, D.C. have passed measures granting pregnant workers greater protections than those found under current federal law, often with bipartisan support, according to A Better Balance, a group that advocates for policies that help families. 

Federal law

Capitol Hill lawmakers are also considering a pregnancy accommodation bill. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act has forbidden discrimination against pregnant workers since 1964. 

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 29, 2019. It would ensure reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. 

A subcommittee hearing for the bill was held in the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 22, 2019. Both A Better Balance and the vice president for government affairs and public policy at Greater Louisville, Inc., the metro Louisville Chamber of Commerce, testified in support of the House bill. ABB says it worked closely with Greater Louisville, Inc. to pass similar legislation in Kentucky.

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