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Delaware Governor Markell signs legislation to protect women from pregnancy discrimination

September 12th, 2014  |  Deborah Hammonds

This week, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed legislation designed to address pregnancy accommodations in the workplace and to clarify that current prohibitions against sex discrimination in employment include pregnancy.

Senate Bill 212 amends state law to make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer (with four or more employees) to fail to hire or to discharge an individual or to otherwise discriminate against that person with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of pregnancy. Employers are also prohibited from limiting, segregating or classifying employees in any way so as to deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s status as an employee because of pregnancy.

The law also prohibits employment agencies and labor organizations from discriminating against individuals based on pregnancy. Exceptions to the law include where there is a bona fide occupational qualification, or where there is a bona fide seniority or merit system or a system that measures earnings by quantity or production, or to employees who work at different locations, provided such differences are not the result of an intention to discriminate because of pregnancy.

Workplace accommodation. Reasonable workplace accommodations may include, but are not limited to, acquisition of equipment for sitting; more frequent or longer breaks; periodic rest; assistance with manual labor; job restructuring; light duty assignments; modified work schedules; temporary transfers to less strenuous or less hazardous work; time off to recover from childbirth; or break time and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk.

Notice and posting requirements. S.B. 212 requires employers to provide notice of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions, including the right to reasonable accommodation to known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth and other related conditions to: (a) new employees, at the start of employment, in writing; (b) existing employees within 120 days after the effective date of the amended law, either orally or in writing; and (c) any employee who notifies the employer of her pregnancy within 10 days of such notification, orally or in writing. This notice must also be conspicuously posted at the employer’s place of business in an area accessible to employees.

“Signed Senate Bill 212 protecting women from employment discrimination. In a society that honors mothers, and mothers-to-be, we recognize women’s rights to continue working during and after pregnancy—and we recognize the importance for our state that they have the opportunity to make the most of their careers while fully supporting their families. Today we update our law to reflect our values,” said Governor Markell in a September 9 Facebook post.

The law takes effect upon approval.