Effective January 1, 2022, workplace protections for expectant and new parents in Minnesota were expanded. As a result of these expanded protections, Minnesota parents no longer have to face the difficult choice between pumping at work to feed their infants or getting paid. The expanded right to pregnancy accommodations also allows more Minnesotans to continue working safely during their pregnancies.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (“DLI”) proposed these expanded protections after conducting research regarding pregnant and new parents’ experiences in the workplace. In the findings, the DLI learned new parents faced barriers to expressing milk at work, such as not being able to take breaks when needed and having to stay late to make up for any break time used. The research also concluded that those who needed a pregnancy accommodation often did not receive one.
Paid Breaks for Nursing and Lactating Parents
The expanded protections require that employers with one or more employees provide paid lactation breaks for up to one year after the birth of an employee’s child. Employers are prohibited from reducing an employee’s compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk. This is a change from the previous statute, which provided reasonable unpaid break time for nursing mothers. However, employers are not required to provide paid lactation break times if doing so would unduly disrupt the operations of the employer. Employers cannot retaliate against employees for asking for or taking these breaks.
Employers with fifteen or more employees are required to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee for health conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth upon request, with the advice of a licensed health care provider or certified doula, unless the employer demonstrates that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. The expanded protections provide that a pregnant employee shall not be required to obtain the advice of a licensed health care provider or certified doula nor may an employer claim undue hardship for the following accommodations: (1) more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks; (2) seating; and (3) limits on lifting over 20 pounds.
The employee and employer shall engage in an interactive process with respect to an employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation. “Reasonable accommodation” may include, but is not limited to, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, seating, frequent restroom breaks, and limits to heavy lifting. An employer shall not require an employee to take a leave or accept an accommodation. Furthermore, an employer shall not retaliate against an employee for requesting or receiving a pregnancy accommodation.
If you believe that you have suffered workplace discrimination on the basis of your pregnancy, contact our Minnesota employment attorneys to discuss your employment situation. Our pregnancy discrimination attorneys will diligently fight to ensure that your rights are protected.