Employers who have at least 15 employees in Kentucky are now required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. The Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act was signed into law on April 9, 2019, and becomes effective on June 27, 2019.
While discrimination against pregnant workers was already prohibited under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA), as well as federal law, the new law amends the KCRA and now requires employers to go one step further and provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s limitations due to her pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. This requirement to accommodate limitations is more expansive than the requirement to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA), and to provide leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) where the employee is unable to perform job duties due to a serious health condition.
The statute defines reasonable accommodations to include more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, acquisition or modification of equipment, appropriate seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or less hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, modified work schedule and private space that is not a bathroom for expressing breast milk. The lactation accommodations are similar to the FLSA requirement for break time and a private space for nursing mothers to express milk for one year after birth, except that the Kentucky requirement applies to both exempt and non-exempt employees and does not have a time limit.
Other key aspects of the new Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act include:
- An employee cannot be required to take leave from work if another reasonable accommodation can be provided;
- Both the employer and employee must engage in a timely, good faith and interactive process to determine effective reasonable accommodations (similar to the ADA’s interactive process);
- Reasonable accommodations must be provided unless the employer can demonstrate an undue hardship; and
- If an employer provides similar accommodations to other employees under a company policy (e.g., light duty policies), a rebuttable presumption is established that the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Employer Action Items
On or before June 27, 2019, covered employers in Kentucky should do the following, consistent with the new law:
- Update their human resources and leave administration policies and procedures to ensure they include an interactive process and reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers who request accommodation;
- Post a conspicuous notice of these rights at the employer’s place of business in an area accessible to employees;
- Provide written notice of these rights to new employees upon hire; and
- Provide written notice to current employees within 30 days of the law’s effective date, or July 27, 2019.