A law that explicitly extends workplace anti-discrimination protections to pregnant employees will go into effect in Massachusetts on April 1.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act adds pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as the need to express breast milk, as protected categories under Chapter 151B, Section 4, the state statute that prohibits discrimination and retaliation in employment, which is enforced by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
The law – passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last November – applies to all employers, including municipalities.
The law defines “reasonable accommodation,” lists accommodations that do not require documentation from a health care provider, and enumerates factors to be considered in determining whether an employer has shown “undue hardship” in the event that an accommodation is denied.
As with other protected categories under the anti-discrimination statute, the law requires employers to engage in a timely, good-faith and interactive process with an employee that is requesting an accommodation.
The law outlines the obligations of employers to employees who are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related condition, including notification requirements. An employee who notifies an employer of a pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition must receive written notice of her rights under the law no more than 10 days after such disclosure. Employers must also notify new employees of such rights at or prior to the start of their employment.
All employees must receive written notice of the right to be free from discrimination and retaliation due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition in an employee handbook, pamphlet or by other means no later than April 1.
Download MCAD Guidance on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (25K PDF)
Download MCAD Q&A on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (73K PDF)

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