A Bill: Colorado be­comes the 17th state to ex­pand safe­guards for preg­nant women

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - NEWS - By Tripp Baltz and Lisa Nagele-Pi­azza

HB 16-1438 An Act Con­cern­ing the Pro­vi­sion of Rea­son­able Ac­com­mo­da­tions by an Em­ployer for Per­sons Who Have a Con­di­tion Re­lated to Preg­nancy 1. Colorado Gov­er­nor John Hick­en­looper, a Demo­crat, signed leg­is­la­tion on June 1 re­quir­ing em­ploy­ers to pro­vide “rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tions” to preg­nant women or new moth­ers. That in­cludes more fre­quent or longer breaks for food, water, or the bath­room; lim­i­ta­tions on lifting; trans­fer to less stren­u­ous or haz­ardous po­si­tions; as­sis­tance with man­ual labor; and mod­i­fied work sched­ules. Em­ploy­ers are also barred from re­tal­i­at­ing against women who ask for spe­cial ar­range­ments. 2. Colorado is the 17th state to pass such a bill. The leg­isla­tive wave fol­lows a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing that preg­nant work­ers can claim they’re be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against if their em­ploy­ers place a “sig­nif­i­cant bur­den” on them with­out jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. The U.S. Equal Employment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion has also found that se­vere morn­ing sick­ness, ges­ta­tional di­a­betes, and other preg­nancy-re­lated con­di­tions are cov­ered by the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act. 3. There’s wide vari­a­tion on how strin­gent state laws are. Louisiana re­quires only that preg­nant women be al­lowed to trans­fer their du­ties. In Alaska and Texas, only public-sec­tor work­ers are cov­ered. But em­ploy­ers have good rea­son to stay ahead of these laws, says Liz Mor­ris, deputy direc­tor of the Cen­ter for WorkLife Law at UC Hast­ings Col­lege of the Law. Spe­cial ar­range­ments for preg­nancy, she notes, help re­tain work­ers and come with a built-in up­side: “They are al­ways tem­po­rary.”

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