Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia)

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

- 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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