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Rhode Island Pregnancy Discrimination Law, Poster

Pregnant workers in Rhode Island are now protected from workplace discrimination in hiring, termination, job promotion, and benefits.

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The State of Rhode Island expanded the protections granted by its Fair Employment Practices Act to include employees and job applicants with “conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions”.

The new posting informs employees and applicants of their right to request a reasonable accommodation for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth and expressing breast milk.

Covered employers must “fill in the blanks” with the names of staff members who would process requests for reasonable accommodation and complaints of discrimination.

The new law is effective immediately.

WHAT IS THE RHODE ISLAND FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES ACT?

The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act protects workers and job applicants at companies of four or more employees from discrimination in hiring, promotion, salary, terms and conditions, and termination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex (including pregnancy status and sexual harassment)
  • Religion
  • Ancestral origin
  • Disability
  • Age (40+)
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression

RHODE ISLAND PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION POSTING REQUIREMENTS

The Rhode Island Pregnancy Discrimination notice is required for all employers with four or more employees covered by the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act. The posting must be:

  • Displayed in a conspicuous location in each place of business and accessible to employees.
  • Provided to new employees at onboarding.
  • All employees by October 2015.
  • Pregnant employees must be provided the notice no later than 10 days after notifying employers of pregnancy.

The new Rhode Island Pregnancy Discrimination notice is available as part of the GovDocs Rhode Island Labor Law Posting Compliance Package. Subscribers to GovDocs Labor Law News receive an additional 20% off their purchases when using coupon code BLOG20. The posting package includes all postings required by the State of Rhode Island for employers:

  • Workers’ Compensation Act
  • Discrimination
  • Notice To All Employees (Unemployment & Disability Insurance)
  • State Minimum Wage Poster
  • Parental & Family Medical Leave Act
  • Ignoring This Poster Can Be Hazardous To Your Health (Right To Know)
  • Sexual Harassment In Employment
  • Whistleblowers’ Protection Act
  • Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Related Conditions Discrimination
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Reasonable Accommodation Offered to Breastfeeding Mother, Court Says

A female employee in need of a place to lactate met with resistance and strict company policy.

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Angela Ames vs Nationwide Mutual Insurance

Angela Ames, a former employee of Nationwide Mutual Insurance, was hired as a loss-mitigation specialist in October 2008. Ames gave birth to her second child in May 2010.

Before returning to work, Ames spoke with a company case manager and asked where she could express breast milk. She was informed she could use a designated lactation room, one of which was accessible on every floor.

When she returned to work and needed to use a lactation room, she was met with resistance. The company nurse informed Ames of Nationwide’s lactation policy, which gave badge access to the lactation rooms once an employee completed paperwork that had a three-day processing period. This policy was available to all employees on the company intranet, yet no one–not even the disability case manager–mentioned this policy to Ames.

When Ames mentioned that she needed a room immediately, the nurse asked the security desk to give Ames access ‘as soon as possible,’ then suggested she use a Wellness Room typically used by sick employees, but stated there wasn’t a functioning lock on the door and that she may expose her milk to illness. The room was occupied, so Ames was instructed to come back later.

While waiting for the wellness room, she met with her supervisor and was informed that none of her work had been done while she was on leave, and that she would be given only two weeks to catch up on eight weeks’ worth of work–requiring many hours of overtime–or be disciplined. Ames approached her department head for assistance. Noticing that Ames was upset, the supervisor handed Ames a piece of paper and a pen stating, “I think its best that you just go home and be with your babies” then dictated her resignation letter.

Ames filed suit against Nationwide on the basis of sex- and pregnancy-discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Courts Decided Employee ‘Jumped To Conclusions’

A lower court dismissed Ames’ case deciding that she could have sought other internal complaint procedures about her discriminatory treatment before writing her resignation letter and did not. They also found that the comment ‘go home and be with your babies’ was gender neutral because both genders can be parents.

On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the lower courts judgment saying that she did not meet the ‘burden of proof’ needed to proceed with a claim of sex- or pregnancy-discrimination. The court found Nationwide made several attempts to accommodate Ames by suggesting temporary solutions. Even though these solutions may not have been immediately available or ideal, Ames resigned before Nationwide could thoroughly address her requests for accommodation. Additionally, the court cites that Ames should not have assumed the worst by thinking the interim solutions would not work and her only option was to resign.

Reasonable Accommodation Tips for Lactating Employees

Know your rights under the law. Ensure you are aware of any company policies around maternity leave and lactation accommodations.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This amendment states that women “affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.”

Under the PDA:

“If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments, or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same.”

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Section 7

This amendment to Section 7 of the FLSA, requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

What is Reasonable Accommodation?

Reasonable accommodation as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice is “any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.”

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New Breastfeeding in the Workplace Law for Hawaii

Hawaii Employers: Are you still compliant with the new labor laws?

Hawaii recently passed an amendment to the Employment Practices Law pertaining to workplace accommodation for breastfeeding.

Under this legislation, employers are required to provide reasonable time for breastfeeding employees as needed for up to one year after childbirth. Employers are also mandated to provide the employee with a private location (other than a restroom) that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public for breastfeeding purposes.

Employers with fewer than 20 employees are exempt if that employer can show that the law would impose a significant expense or difficulty to their business.

A mandatory Breastfeeding in the Workplace poster is included with this law to explain the changes and notify employees.

Failure to comply with posting or enforcing the law results in a minimum $500 fine for each violation.

Hawaii’s state law takes precedence over the national Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as it offers greater protection to employees. You can read more about the FLSA here.

GovDocs offers this new Breastfeeding in the Workplace posting as part of our Hawaii All-On-One poster. To make sure you never miss out on mandatory state or federal labor law changes, join our Update Program and stay compliant!

For more information about the Hawaii Breastfeeding in the Workplace Act, Click here.

Breastfeeding and the Workplace

U.S. employers must make reasonable accommodation for nursing mothers.

U.S. employers must make reasonable accommodation for nursing mothers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires workplace provisions for working mothers who recently gave birth if they choose to collect breast milk for their nursing children. Employers must provide reasonable time and a private place for employees to pump breast milk.

The reasonable time provision allow nursing mothers adequate time to complete the breast milk collection process, and as often as the nursing mother needs, which may vary from employee to employee. Nursing mothers in the workplace need access to a private place that is out of view of other employees, but, the law stipulates, the location cannot be a bathroom.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt to the FLSA requirements only if providing special accommodations for nursing mothers would cause significant difficulty or expense. State laws providing greater protection to nursing mothers in the workplace take precedence over the FLSA requirements. Laws in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location and may have requirements different than the FLSA requirements.

The FLSA is one of the Federal postings required for U.S. employers. GovDocs offers the FLSA posting as part of our convenient Federal All-on-One poster in English or Spanish.

For more information: