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NEW UTAH LAW: Pregnant Employees Must Have Reasonable Accommodation

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act already protects employees from discrimination, but a new law now requires Utah employers to...

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**Please note that any employer REQUIRING a pregnant employee to accept a reasonable accommodation, with or without her request of an accommodation, may be in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If a pregnant employee prefers to continue in her current role and is able to perform the essential job duties, whether or not it is within the best interest of the unborn child, she may not be forced to comply. Please contact our HR experts for more information.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act already prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions. But a newly enacted amendment to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act (Senate Bill 59) now requires Utah employers to provide reasonable accommodation for pregnant employees.

Under the new law, an employer is prohibited from:
Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee related to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related conditions if the employee has requested an accommodation;
Requiring an employee to terminate employment (or take a leave of absence) if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to accommodate the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related condition; and,
Denying employment opportunities to an employee, if the denial is based on the employee’s need for a reasonable accommodation related to her pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related conditions.

An employer may be excused from providing a reasonable accommodation to an employee for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy-related conditions if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would create an undue hardship on the operations of the employer. An “undue hardship” is defined in the Act as “a requirement that would cause the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s operations.”

Employers may require the employee to provide certification from the employee’s health care provider concerning the medical advisability of a reasonable accommodation. If a certification is required by the employer, it shall include the following elements:
• The date the reasonable accommodation becomes medically advisable;
• The probable duration of the reasonable accommodation; and
• An explanatory statement as to the medical advisability of the reasonable accommodation.

Employers may not require an employee to provide medical certification for “minor” accommodations (e.g. the need for more frequent restroom, food, or water breaks). In addition, employers are not required to permit the employee to have her child at the workplace for purposes of accommodating pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions.

Finally, the new law requires employers to notify employees of their rights to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions. This notice may be given by including a provision in the employee handbook or by posting a written notice in a conspicuous place in the workplace.

Recommendation for Utah employers
In light of this new law, Utah employers should consider either (1) adding a pregnancy-related reasonable accommodation policy to their employee handbooks or (2) developing a written notice advising employees of their rights under this law.

For more information about how this law may impact your business, please contact our HR experts at hr@stratus.hr.

Source: ePlace Solutions, Inc. (reposted with permission)

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