On August 30, 2015, the Nebraska Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which amends the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, will go into effect.
As outlined below, the new law essentially requires employers to treat pregnancy-related limitations in the same manner as physical limitations stemming from disability. Requested reasonable accommodations are required unless they would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
The New Law
The new law protects an individual who is pregnant, who has given birth or who has a related medical condition. The amendment makes it unlawful to “[d]iscriminate against an individual who is pregnant, who has given birth, or who has a related medical condition in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1107.01(2).
The new law further requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant and nursing mothers, and it includes 10 examples of “reasonable accommodations:”
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 hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth, or break time and appropriate facilities for breast-feeding.
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1102(11). The amendment also makes it unlawful discrimination to require “an employee to take leave under any leave law or policy of the covered entity if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the employee.” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1102(18).
Employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation unless the employer demonstrates that to do so would cause an undue hardship. An undue hardship is something that would require significant difficulty or expense upon the employer.
What Employers Need to Know
In Nebraska, private employers with 15 or more employees must offer reasonable accommodations to pregnant and nursing workers. The types of accommodations required for pregnant workers are broader than those required for disabled workers. In addition, pregnant workers will only have to demonstrate a “known physical limitation” to be entitled to reasonable accommodations instead of a medical need. Employers will be required to provide the requested accommodation unless the employer can demonstrate the accommodation would create an undue hardship on the employer.
If you have any questions regarding this new legislation or your company’s policies, please contact your Kutak Rock LLP attorney or a member of our Employment Law Practice Group.