Starting June 27, Kentucky women who are working while pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or who need to express breastmilk at work are protected under the law from discrimination. Kentucky 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.
Too often, we hear from pregnant workers across the country who are forced off the job when they announce their pregnancy, or when they request related accommodations. As the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act goes into effect, Kentucky is now one of 26 states that mandate fairness for pregnant workers (hopefully soon, one of 27). The passage of this law was the result of several years of tireless advocacy from the coalition, and we’re so proud to have played a key role, working extensively with local lawmakers and advocates to move this legislation forward. This victory was also thanks to the bravery of our former clients Lyndi Trischer and Sam Riley, who shared their stories with legislators and the public to ensure no woman in Kentucky will have to go through what they did.
If you’re a worker living in Kentucky and are wondering what new rights you have under this law, here are some answers:
What does the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act (KY PWA) do?
- The KY PWA protects pregnant employees and those who have recently given birth from discrimination in the workplace. Employers must allow employees with 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” and may include light duty or limits on heavy lifting, breaks to drink water or rest, a private space that is not a bathroom to express breast milk, and others.
Am I covered?
- If you are pregnant, recovering from childbirth, nursing, or have a related medical condition, and you work for a Kentucky employer that has 15 or more employees, then you are covered.
What are my rights?
- You are entitled to reasonable accommodations 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 temporary transfer to a less physically demanding or less hazardous position, more frequent or longer breaks, job restructuring, light duty, or a modified work schedule, and private, non-bathroom space to express breast milk, among other things.
- 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 must work together with you in an interactive process 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.