Effective as of October 1, 2017, for any employer who employs three (3) or more employees, Connecticut has expanded legal protections for pregnant employees. While most individuals already knew that it was/is unlawful to terminate an employee’s employment because of their pregnancy or refuse to hire and/or accommodate a pregnant worker – Connecticut has expanded and enhanced pregnancy discrimination laws to expand upon accommodations for pregnant workers. Some of those enhancements include (1) making it a reasonable accommodation to expand the duration and frequency of breaks for pregnant employees during the workday; (2) upon request, temporarily assigning pregnant workers to less strenuous job duties; (3) mandating notification of pregnancy laws to employees at time of hire and when an employee notifies the employer of their pregnancy; and (4) enhancing several existing laws, including the following:
- An employer or potential employer cannot segregate or classify a pregnant employee in any way that deprives them of any employment opportunities on the basis of their pregnancy;
- An employer cannot Discriminate against any employee or job applicant on the basis of their pregnancy in the terms or conditions of their employment (such as in job responsibilities, hours, dress code, sick days, health insurance, etc.);
- An Employer cannot deny an employment opportunity to an employee or job applicant if the denial is a result of, or need for, a reasonable accommodation due to an employee’s pregnancy;
- An employer cannot fail or refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or job applicant due to their pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship;
- On the flip-side, an employer cannot force an employee or job applicant who is pregnant to accept a reasonable accommodation if they do not request it or who do not have limitations that prevent them from performing the essential duties of their current job.
- An employer cannot mandate that an employee take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided in lieu of the leave; and
- An employer cannot retaliate against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of their employment based upon the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.
It is not always easy to know what the definition of pregnancy means or what is considered a reasonable accommodation. The new law has taken this into consideration and has also expanded upon some of the definitions to help clarify any ambiguity. You can read the full text and noted changes to this law HERE.
A recent pregnancy discrimination claim I worked on was about a young female who became pregnant while working at a restaurant. She was a server so the majority of her income came from her tips. After she notified her employer that she was pregnant, her working hours were reduced. As she got closer to her due date, not only were her hours reduced, but she was taken off the schedule as a server and assigned to a hostess assignment. She did not request any accommodations and certainly did not want to give up her serving position or her tips. The owner of the establishment however took it upon herself to determine that customers did not want to be served by a pregnant woman and that it was safer for the pregnant woman to just stand and seat people, instead of carrying trays of food, etc. That employee suffered in the terms and conditions of her employment because of her pregnancy and she prevailed on her pregnancy discrimination claim. If you or some you know is experiencing similar actions as a pregnant individual, Employee Rights is here for you and can assist you in finding a remedy.