TN’s new Pregnancy Accommodation law expands protections for pregnant applicants and employees beyond the federal “Pregnancy Discrimination Act” (PDA) which basically said you had to treat pregnant women consistently with other employees who have medical issues, but you did NOT have to treat them BETTER than other employees. The new law now elevates pregnancy to an “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA) level requiring reasonable accommodation.

Starting TODAY (October 1, 2020), the new standard is all Tennessee employers with 15 or more employees will have to engage in the interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations with pregnant employees, similar to an ADA/disabled employee standard/process.

What this means for you is that it’s time to update your handbook AGAIN! You now have to make reasonable accommodation for employees with a normal pregnancy (no underlying disabilities or complications – which was already covered by the Federal ADA) which may include things like:

(A) Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible and usable;
(B) Providing more frequent, longer, or flexible breaks;
(C) Providing a private place, other than a bathroom stall, for the purpose of expressing milk;
(D) Modifying food or drink policies;
(E) Providing modified seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires standing;
(F) Providing assistance with manual labor and limits on lifting;
(G) Authorizing a temporary transfer to a vacant position;
(H) Providing job restructuring or light duty, if available;
(I) Acquiring or modifying of equipment, devices, or an employee’s workstation;
(J) Modifying work schedules; and
(K) Allowing flexible scheduling for prenatal visits.

As an employer, you are now expressly prohibited from “taking adverse action against an employee in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment for requesting or using a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations for medical needs arising from the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including, but not limited to, counting an absence related to pregnancy under no fault attendance policies.”

Confused? So am I – more to come as we learn more about how this the law will be implemented!