A Progressive Policy Win

December 21, 2017

For many women living in Massachusetts, leaving their job during pregnancy is not a financially viable option. However, many female workers worry that their employer will not provide reasonable accommodations, such as allowing more bathroom breaks, limits on heavy lifting, or private nursing spaces while they are pregnant or nursing. Because pregnancy is not a protected class, like disability or age, many workers were unfairly having to choose between having a child and keeping their job.

“What these workers were facing was discrimination plain and simple,” said MassCOSH Labor and Healthy Schools Coordinator Tolle Graham. “This was a workplace issue that could affect half of the state labor force, and that’s why we joined the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Coalition.”

MassCOSH is happy to report that this past July, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed, adding pregnancy and related conditions as a protected category under Section 4 of Chapter 151B, the same section that covers age, sex, and disability. Once the bill becomes law, it will be illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition, and also makes it illegal for an employer to deny a reasonable accommodation for a pregnant or nursing employee.