Under a new law just signed into effect by Governor Matt Bevin yesterday, many Kentucky employers will need to change their human resources practices and provide reasonable accommodations to workers for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. The new law went into effect upon signature, so employers will need to make adjustments immediately in order to stay in compliance. What exactly must Kentucky employers do?
Background And Summary Of New Law
Pursuant to federal law, most employers are already prohibited from discriminating against their pregnant workers based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. However, there are still some accommodations that may not be contemplated by federal law. Early in 2019, the Kentucky legislature introduced Senate Bill 18—also known as the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act—to fill in some of those gaps. The bill was passed by the legislature in March and signed into law on April 9.
The Pregnant Workers Act amends the Kentucky Civil Rights Act as it relates to pregnant employees by requiring companies with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Under the Pregnant Workers Act, employers will be liable if they fail to make reasonable accommodations for an employee who requests an accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The Act designates the following requirements:
- An employee shall not be required to take leave from work if another reasonable accommodation can be provided;
- The employer and employee shall engage in a timely, good faith, and interactive process to determine effective reasonable accommodations; and
- If the employer has a policy to provide, would be required to provide, is currently providing, or has provided a similar accommodation to other classes of employees, then a rebuttable presumption is created that the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.
As for what specific accommodation should be considered in each situation, the Act expands the definition of “reasonable accommodation” to include a number of specific accommodations not specifically enumerated in federal law. These include, but are not limited to:
- more frequent or longer breaks;
- time off to recover from childbirth;
- acquisition or modification of equipment;
- appropriate seating;
- temporary transfer to a less strenuous or less hazardous position;
- job restructuring;
- light duty;
- modified work schedule; and
- private space that is not a bathroom for expressing breast milk.
Lactation Accommodation Also Included
The Pregnant Workers Act also creates the first lactation accommodation requirement in Kentucky, defining “related medical condition” to include lactation or the need to express breast milk.” As noted above, the new law requires employers to provide space, other than a bathroom, for their nursing employees to express breast milk.
What Should Kentucky Employers Do Now?
You must begin complying with these requirements immediately. Besides altering your human resources policies and practices, the law requires you to post a notice regarding the Pregnant Workers Act in a conspicuous place, provide existing employees written notice of the new requirements within 30 days, and provide written notice about the law to new employees at the start of their employment.
For more information on how to comply with this new law, please contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or any attorney in our Louisville office.
This Legal Alert provides information about a specific state law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.