Going back to work after having a baby is one of the most challenging parts of being a new mom. Feelings of guilt and sadness can combine with exhaustion to make working a real challenge. Lactation adds a practical challenge for working moms, especially when there aren’t good places to pump. New mothers in Nevada should know that state law requires employers to provide certain accommodations for women who are lactating.
The Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (the Act) went into effect in 2017. The Act has two important components relevant to new moms. First, it requires employers to provide accommodations for matters related to pregnancy and childbirth, including lactation. Second, it protects pregnant women and women who have recently given birth from discrimination based on those accommodations.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for lactating mothers
Under Section 5 of the Act a Nevada employer may not refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation upon the employee’s request for any condition relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition (explicitly including lactation), unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the business of the employer. There are several features worth noting about this rule:
- The employee must request the accommodation. An employer is not obligated to preemptively create a solution, though of course many employers do.
- The employer is required to enter into a dialogue. The employer and employee “must engage in a timely, good faith and interactive process to determine an effective, reasonable accommodation for the employee.”
- The accommodation must be “reasonable.” The Act explains that an accommodation may include a change in the work environment or methods of working to allow the employee to have employment opportunities equal to those available to other employees. The Act gives several examples of what a “reasonable accommodation” might be, including revising break schedules, providing an area other than a bathroom for expressing breast milk, or providing a modified work schedule. If the employee asks for a reasonable accommodation and the employer refuses, it becomes the employer’s responsibility to prove that providing the accommodation would be an “undue hardship” for the employer. This might involve showing that the accommodation is too expensive or could affect the employer’s operations.
Discriminating against lactating employees is unlawful
The Act provides that the following acts by an employer are unlawful:
- Refusing to provide reasonable accommodation for lactation, unless the accommodation would be an undue burden.
- Using the fact of the employee’s lactation, or an employee’s refusal to accept accommodations offered by the employer, to take an adverse employment action, such as reducing pay, imposing a difficult new schedule, or changing the job in a negative way.
- Denying an employment opportunity on the basis that the employee refused an accommodation or is lactating.
- Requiring an employee to take leave.
- Requiring an employee to accept an accommodation she didn’t request or chooses not to accept.
These protections are broad and significant. Importantly, they allow an employee the flexibility to decline an offered accommodation and enter into a dialogue with the employer about alternatives. The employer cannot coerce an employee to accept a solution that isn’t acceptable to her.
Talk to an attorney if you have questions
The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provide personalized, caring guidance to clients in the Las Vegas area. If you are a new or expecting mother we are happy to explain how Nevada law protects you. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.