Governor Baker signs Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into law

The legislation makes it against the law for an employer to deny "reasonable accommodations" in Massachusetts

BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law, known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act aimed at ending discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace.

Lawmakers say the legislation provides common-sense protections for women.

More than half of all Massachusetts pregnant women and new mothers work to help support their families. But some are put in harsh work conditions or face discrimination from employers.

Under the legislation, it is against the law to take adverse action against an employee because of their pregnancy, including denying employment, firing a worker, or reducing pay.

“As events in Washington threaten the safety and security of women, we stand for the opposite here in Massachusetts,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop).

The legislation makes it against the law for an employer to deny “reasonable accommodations” in Massachusetts. Some of those include more frequent paid or unpaid breaks, time off with or without pay and assistance with manual labor.

Members of the business community initially raised concerns over work modifications, but the legislation indicates employers can deny accommodations that “would impose undue hardships on the employer’s program.”

“It’s a common sense piece of legislation,” State Senator Jim Welch (D-West Springfield) told 22News. “Certain accommodations should be made and I think employers understand that as well.”

Both the House and Senate unanimously approved the legislation.

Employers must notify all new hires and existing workers of the right to be free from discrimination based on pregnancy on or before January 2018.