Pregnancy accommodations bill signed into law


On May 16, Gov. Inslee signed SSB 5835, requiring businesses with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate, and takes effect July 23, 2017.

SUMMARY

Reasonable Accommodation for Pregnancy. It is an unfair practice for any employer to:

fail or refuse to make reasonable accommodation for an employee for pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship —undue hardship means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense; take adverse action against an employee who requests, declines, or uses an accommodation; and deny employment opportunities to an otherwise qualified employee if the denial is based on the employer's need to make reasonable accommodation;

Reasonable accommodation means:

providing more frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks; modifying a no food or drink policy; job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, or acquiring or modifying equipment, devices, or an employee's work station; providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires standing; providing a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position; providing assistance with manual labor and limits on lifting; scheduling flexibility for prenatal visits; and any further accommodation an employee may request, and to which an employer must give reasonable consideration to in consultation with information provided by the Department of Labor and Industries or the attending health care provider.

An employer may not claim undue hardship or require written certification from an employee for:

providing more frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks; modifying a no food or drink policy; or providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires standing.

The Attorney General investigates complaints and enforces the reasonable accommodation requirements, including by conference and conciliation. In addition, a civil cause of action is created to enjoin further violations, recover actual damages, and recover reasonable attorneys' fees.

For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.