Here's what you need to know about new workplace protections for pregnant and breastfeeding workers: Georgia Recorder

The $1.7 trillion federal spending bill President Joe Biden signed expanded protections for pregnant or breastfeeding workers last week.

Supporters of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act — both included as amendments in the spending bill — say the measures clarify the rights of these workers that were not properly covered by existing laws.

Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) co-sponsored the measure to strengthen the rights of pregnant workers. The law, which goes into effect in June, requires a company with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees unless doing so poses an undue hardship to the employer. That means a pregnant employee cannot automatically be denied additional bathroom breaks, cannot be forced to lift heavy objects, be denied the opportunity to sit while working, or other such accommodations. And it means that an employer cannot discriminate against a pregnant applicant who requires such accommodations.

Proponents of the change said neither the existing Pregnancy Discrimination Act (an amendment to the Civil Rights Act) nor the Americans with Disabilities Act provided the accommodations pregnant workers needed to have a healthy pregnancy. Since these measures did not offer sufficient protection, 30 states According to Bloomberg Law, they have enacted their own laws for pregnant workers.

The Supreme Court's standard for assessing the rights of pregnant workers and their need for accommodations made the bill necessary, said Dina Bakst, co-founder of A Better Balance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on litigation, legislative advocacy and education on labor issues.

Baking, in Transcript The court's 2015 decision in Young v. UPS, which favored Congress for the bill, established “an overly complicated and burdensome standard requiring pregnant workers to overcome legal hurdles and prove discrimination.” to obtain accommodation. The court held that pregnant workers could only have the same accommodations as workers who are limited by an injury or disability.

Bakst also testified that a 2019 report from her organization found that pregnant workers suffered losses as a result of the court decision 29 of 43 Pregnancy accommodation cases in lower courts. Elizabeth Gedmark, vice president of A Better Balance, told States Newsroom that this does not capture the number of workers who never made it to court because of the stress and financial problems associated with taking legal action.

“You shouldn’t have to look around and find another co-worker or jump through all these hoops or prove that you’re disabled under the ADA,” she said. “You should just be able to take those reasonable precautions when you need them, especially to prevent problems and health issues before they even occur.”

Just in August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that Wal-Mart not injured Bloomberg reported that the law broke the law when it said pregnant workers were not included in a policy at a Wisconsin distribution center that allowed workers who were injured on the job to be assigned to jobs that covered their injuries would not worsen, Bloomberg reported. The court said Wal-Mart was not required to provide justification for why the policy was limited only to those workers, as argued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of women workers.

Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families said The passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was a victory for gender and racial justice. She added: “For far too long, pregnant workers have been deprived of the crucial protections that many people need to have a healthy pregnancy: protections like the ability to take bathroom breaks, sit at the checkout line, or take breaks during a shift.” Water to stay hydrated.”

The law, which passed with bipartisan support, was also approved by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Retail Federation.

ACLU Senior Counsel Vania Leveille also celebrated the passage of the PUMP Act for Nursing Mothers, sponsored by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), which was also included in the spending bill.

Supporters said the measure was necessary because the Affordable Care Act, which gave workers a break to express breast milk and the privacy needed to do so, did not cover workers who were considered exempt from overtime. This meant that 9 million female workers of childbearing age were left out. accordingly a 2019 report from the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California.

The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act is intended to close these coverage gaps, they say ACLU and Center for WorkLife Law. It also extends the time that breastfeeding parents can benefit from these arrangements one year to two years.

“The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act is so transformative because it expands the scope of federal laws that require break times and non-bathroom spaces to be sanitary for breastfeeding workers,” Gedmark said.

Companies must provide the time and space to take immediate action. However, the ability to file a complaint against an employer and take legal action does not begin until April. Companies with fewer than 50 employees can waive the obligation if this would represent unreasonable hardship.

Transportation workers will be treated differently under the PUMP law: Long-distance bus drivers and some railroad workers will face a three-year delay before the bill takes effect for them. There is also an exemption for air carriers and a difference in the way the law affects some railroad workers. Employers are not required to provide breaks to railroad workers on train crews if doing so would be too costly to the employer and create unsafe conditions for another railroad worker with a right of way, the amendment language states.

Correction: This story incorrectly stated which companies must comply with the PUMP Act. The new law applies to all businesses, but companies with fewer than 50 employees can avoid the requirement if doing so creates an undue hardship.