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Louisiana Passes New Protections for Pregnant Workers

The Louisiana Pregnant Workers Fairness Act protects pregnant workers in the state from discrimination in the workplace and allows them to access reasonable accommodations on the job.
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Effective August 1, 2021, Louisiana workers who are working while pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or who need to express breastmilk at work are protected under the law from discrimination. Louisiana law now gives workers an explicit right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations at work, so they can stay healthy and safe while continuing to earn a paycheck to support their family. 

These protections come at a critical moment, as many pregnant workers are still navigating how to continue working while protecting their health. A Better Balance worked closely with a strong coalition of local partners and provided drafting and legal assistance to support the passage of the Louisiana Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

If you’re a worker living in Louisiana and are wondering what new rights you have under this law, here are some answers:

What does the Louisiana Pregnancy Accommodations law do?

• This law protects pregnant employees and those who have recently given birth from discrimination in the workplace. Employers must allow employees with medical needs causing limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition to make changes to their work duties or schedule so they can stay healthy and on the job. These changes are called “reasonable accommodations.”

Am I covered?

• If you have a known limitation that arises from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including lactation or the need to express breast milk, and you work for a Louisiana employer that has more than 25 employees, then you are covered.

What are my rights?

• You are entitled to necessary reasonable accommodations if you have medical needs that cause limitations arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, when you request them, as long as the accommodations would not impose an “undue hardship” on your employer, meaning they would be very difficult or expensive to provide.

• Reasonable accommodations could include:

• Making existing facilities readily accessible and usable

• More frequent or longer break periods, which may be compensated, including bathroom breaks

• A private place, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk

• Modifying food or drink policy to allow access to water bottle or snacks, for example

• Seating or allowing employees to sit when their job requires them to stand

• Limits or assistance with heavy lifting

• Temporarily transferring an employee to a less strenuous or hazardous position

• Providing job restructuring or light duty

• Modifying work schedule

• Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices to allow employees to perform essential job functions.

• Other accommodations

• Your employer cannot force you to take leave from work if a reasonable accommodation can be provided to keep you healthy and on the job. Your employer also cannot punish you for requesting accommodations.

• Your employer must work together with you to figure out the right accommodations to meet your needs.

Do I have to be disabled to get an accommodation?

• No. Even an employee with a healthy pregnancy can receive a reasonable accommodation if needed, such as light duty or access to a water bottle to prevent health problems before they begin.

If you have questions, call A Better Balance’s free, confidential legal helpline at 1-833-NEED-ABB (1-833-633-3222) to speak with an attorney about your workplace rights around pregnancy and family care.

A printable Know Your Rights fact sheet is available here.

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