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Synopsis: This new statute amends Chapter 151B, Section 4 and provides substantial rights to employees and applicants based on pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions.

Goes into effect: April 1, 2018

Applies to: All employers with 6 or more employees; Existing Employees and applicants

Obligations: Provide accommodations for pregnancy related conditions, including lactation;

Engage in good-faith interactive process to determine an effective, reasonable accommodation;

Accept documentation from a wide range of professionals, not just doctors, including nurses, occupational therapists, midwife and others;

If needed, provide leave of absence, more/longer unpaid breaks, time off, modified schedule, temporary transfers, light duty, job restructuring, modification/acquisition of equipment or seating, assistance with manual labor;

Provide private place (not-bathroom) for expressing breast milk;

Reinstate employee after leave of absence with same position and benefits or equivalent position

Prohibitions: Forcing undesired accommodations on employee;

Forcing a leave of absence;

Retaliating against employee who exercises her rights;

Refusing to hire or promote pregnant employee or applicant

New policy needed: Required by statute to have a handbook, pamphlet or other means of notice by April 1, 2018;

must also give notice to new employees as well as employees who give notice of a pregnancy-related condition

New Training: Training of H.R. and managers recommended

Violations: Violations can result in liability for damages, including back pay, front pay, emotional distress and other compensatory damages, punitive damages, civil fines and attorneys' fees and costs.

The above is not legal advice, but just a synopsis of this important new statute that provides pregnant employees and applicants with substantial new rights. Take your obligations seriously and comply with these obligations to avoid liability.

By Adam P. Whitney

617.338.7000