- Pregnant workers in Nevada will receive additional protections when the state's Nevada Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act takes effect Oct. 1, according to attorneys at Ballard Spahr LLP. The law, which covers pregnancy, childbirth and related health conditions, applies to employers with 15 or more workers. The new state law provides pregnant workers with protections similar to those in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which doesn't cover normal pregnancy.
- Nevada's law requires employers to provide accommodation for pregnant workers or job applicants. It also prohibits employers from firing or taking some other adverse action against pregnant women because of their pregnancy (for example, denying a job to an eligible applicant) and from forcing a pregnant employee to take leave. The law also has employer notice requirements.
- Like the ADA, Nevada's law requires employers and employees to work out an effective and reasonable accommodation using an interactive process. The process is activated when an employee or applicant who is pregnant or has a pregnancy-related medical condition requests accommodation, Ballard Spahr LLP attorneys said. Employers may require a physician's statement to authenticate the accommodation request.
Nevada isn't the first state to pass such a law, following in the footsteps of Massachusetts and 18 other states — and it likely won't be the last.
Employers familiar with the ADA's interactive process will likely find implementation of Nevada's law simple. It largely requires employers to consider pregnant employees for the same types of accommodations usually reserved for workers with disabilities. (Although the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently taken the position that the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires accommodations for pregnant workers.)
Employers must remember, however, that when both state and federal law applies, they must follow the requirements that are more beneficial to the employee. Employers operating in multiple states are reporting that the various law present a major compliance challenge. Federal legislators are well-aware of this headache and are drafting proposals to alleviate at least some of those burdens.