BillTracker

Providing reasonable accommodations in the workplace for pregnant women. (Farrell)

Prohibits an employer from failing or refusing to make reasonable accommodation for an employee for pregnancy. Requires the attorney general to investigate complaints and enforce this act.

1ST SUBSTITUTE COMPARED TO ORIGINAL:
The bill will be null and void if funding is not provided in the operating budget.

EFFECT OF STRIKER AMENDMENT PASSED ON FLOOR:
• Adds an intent section.
• Codifies the reasonable accommodation provision in the chapter governing the Attorney General's Office (AG), rather than the Washington Law Against Discrimination;
• Applies the provisions to employers with 15 or more employees (rather than 8 or more);
• Removes from the definition of "pregnancy" the need to express breastmilk;
• Changes the definition of "reasonable accommodation" by removing the phrase "including but not limited to" and adding: (1) scheduling flexibility for prenatal visits; (2) limits on lifting; and (3) providing any further pregnancy accommodation an employee may request and to which an employer must give reasonable consideration in consultation with information provided on pregnancy accommodation by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) or the employee's health care provider.
• Provides that an employer may not ask for written certification from the employee's health care provider and may not claim undue hardship for: providing flexible restroom breaks; modifying food/drink policies; providing seating; and providing limits on lifting over 17 pounds.
• Removes the provision making it an unfair practice for an employer to require an employee to accept an accommodation that the employee chooses not to accept.
• Defines "undue hardship" to mean an action requiring significant difficulty or expense (underlying bill did not define).
• Requires L&I to provide online educational materials.
• Specifies that the AG's enforcement process must include conference and conciliation.
• Specifies that the bill does not preempt, limit, diminish or affect laws related to disability discrimination.
• Creates the Healthy Pregnancy Advisory Committee to develop a strategy for improving maternal and infant health outcomes. Requires the Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) to: appoint up to 20 members from various organizations and communities; designate a representative from the DOH; and invite representatives from other state agencies. Requires the committee to meet quarterly and develop a strategy for best practices that include, among other things, promoting breastfeeding, incentivizing baby-friendly designations by hospitals, and reducing barriers to accessing prenatal care. Requires the committee to submit a strategy to the Legislature and the Governor's Council for the Healthiest Next Generation by October 15, 2018.

EFFECT OF COMMERCE, LABOR & SPORTS COMMITTEE STRIKER AMENDMENT(S):
A section requiring health care facilities to adopt room-in and skin-to-skin contact policies is added. The null and void clause is removed. Disability discrimination is removed as one of the types of laws not preempted or limited by the bill. The intent section is modified.

Hearing Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 -- 1:30 pm

WA State Legislature Link:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1796&Year=2017    (opens a new browser tab)