Guide outlines required accommodations for pregnant employees
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today released a guide for employees and employers on specific civil rights that pregnant employees have under Washington state law.
The flyer outlines what pregnancy accommodation laws are, the rights that pregnant employees have in the workplace, which practices are prohibited for employers and how pregnant employees can report pregnancy accommodation violations.
“A pregnant employee does not have to choose between her job and her health,” said Ferguson. “The law provides protections for pregnant employees, and it’s important that they know their rights. If employers do not respect these rights, my office will hold them accountable.”
In 2017, the Legislature passed the Healthy Starts Act. The act provides civil rights protections to pregnant employees at workplaces with more than 14 employees. Every employer must allow the following accommodations for pregnant employees, without requiring the employee to provide a written note from a healthcare professional:
- Provide frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks;
- Modify a no food or drink policy;
- Provide seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently; and
- Limit lifting to 17 pounds or less.
In addition to these accommodations, upon request, an employer must provide a pregnant employee additional accommodations if the request does not pose a significant difficulty or expense to employers. An employer may require a health care professional’s written certification for these accommodations:
- Job restructuring, including modifying a work schedule, job reassignment, changing a work station, or providing equipment;
- Providing a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position;
- Scheduling flexibility for prenatal visits; and
- Providing any further accommodations the employee may need.
Employers cannot retaliate against pregnant employees who request one of these changes, deny employment opportunities to pregnant employees who are otherwise qualified or require pregnant employees to take leave if an alternative is available.
Under the law, the Attorney General’s Office has the enforcement authority to respond to and resolve these complaints. Since the Healthy Starts Act took effect, the Attorney General’s Office has fielded dozens of complaints from pregnant women regarding workplace accommodations.
If you believe that your employer has failed to accommodate your pregnancy, submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the unit toll-free at 833-389-2427. You may also submit your complaint on the Attorney General’s Office website.
Free copies of the Attorney General’s Pregnant Workers’ Accommodation Rights flyer can be downloaded here.
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The Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit works to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. It is named for Wing Luke, who served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; email@example.com