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New Laws Protect Pregnant Workers in Maryland

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On October 1, 2013 Maryland has enacted a new law requiring all employers of 15 or more employees to offer reasonable accommodations for disabilities due to pregnancy. This new law is called the Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers Act (RAPWA).

The new law was introduced in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the recent decision in Young v. UPS. Peggy Young, a UPS driver, asked for a "light duty" assignment after her doctor recommended she lifts no more than 20lbs while pregnant. UPS denied her request even though they have a policy of giving light duty assignments to employees who had other temporary disabilities. UPS claimed that pregnancy was not covered under the policy. As a result Peggy Young was forced to take unpaid leave and lost her medical coverage during the birth of her child.

The new law states that if an employer has a policy authorizing special accommodations for employees who suffer on the job injuries, it must offer the same accommodations to pregnant employees. In addition if there are no set policies the employer must provide a light duty assignment if the employees health care provider requests it.

Reasonable accommodations are:

  • Change of employees work hours.
  • Change of employees job duties.
  • Providing leave if needed.
  • Transferring the employee to a less strenuous or less hazardous position.

The new Maryland law expands employers obligations beyond those under the American Disability Act where pregnancy is not a protected disability because of the temporary situation.

Under this new law there is no minimum amount of time that an employee has to have worked for the company. All employees who find themselves disabled due to a pregnancy will receive the same terms and conditions as they are applied to other disabilities including employment related health, temporary disability and sick leave plans.

If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant talk to your HR department. All employers of 15 or more employees must post the new requirements and add it to their employee handbook.

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