Minnesota employers must provide accommodations during pregnancy

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2019 | Firm News

Pregnant women working for companies in Minnesota may rely on specific legal requirements imposed upon an employer for providing a safe and healthy workplace. Under state law, employers with more than 21 employees in one location must provide a pregnant worker with reasonable accommodations when she requests it. If an individual’s health conditions change due to childbirth or a pregnancy, an employer may not discriminate against her due to this new condition.

When a pregnancy or childbirth causes changes to occur in a worker’s body, she may require a modification to her office, station or work schedule. As reported by the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust, a worker does not have to provide documentation to an employer to receive the accommodation. If a pregnant employee asks for a reasonable adjustment, an employer must comply without discriminating against or inquiring about her condition.

Requests for reasonable accommodations without medical documents

Some workplace accommodations may require that an employee provide a letter or prescription from their medical practitioner. Pregnant employees, however, are not required to provide medical documents to request accommodations such as:

  • Refraining from lifting property or equipment weighing 20 pounds or more
  • Sitting in a different chair or a new seating arrangement
  • Taking more breaks to eat, drink water and use the restroom

Unless the accommodations will result in an employer’s undue hardship, the employer must comply with the request.

Accommodations which require showing medical documents

An employer has the legal right, however, to see medical documentation when asked to meet certain requests for accommodation. This includes an employee asking for a less strenuous position or a lifting limit which is less than 20 pounds. There is, however, no legal requirement for the employer to comply with these accommodations even after seeing medical documentation.

Legal action for an employer’s retaliation

The Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who discloses her pregnancy or requests a reasonable accommodation. According to the Act, a legal action against a company is permitted when an employer takes an adverse action, harasses an employee or treats her differently once she discloses that she is pregnant.