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Don't HR Alone #31 - Pregnancy Accommodation and Minneapolis Minimum Wage

July Question of the Month

Question: An employee who is 30 weeks pregnant requested a different work assignment as an accommodation for her pregnancy because she is nearing the end of her term. Are we required to provide her this accommodation under the federal law? Answer: It depends. Pregnancy alone, without complications, is not a disability requiring reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, an employer is not required to offer another work assignment to a pregnant employee to accommodate her late-term pregnancy if her pregnancy is otherwise normal. However, if an employee experiences complications with the pregnancy and those complications result in the employee being disabled, accommodations could be required unless they would result in undue hardships for the employer. In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided guidance on certain pregnancy-related conditions that could be considered disabilities and described the ways employers could accommodate these conditions under the ADA. Two examples are:

  • Redistributing non-fundamental or non-essential job functions an employee can no longer perform due to the disability, such as modifying lifting requirements for someone with pregnancy-related sciatica.

  • Modifying how non-fundamental or non-essential job functions are performed, such as allowing someone with pregnancy-related carpel tunnel syndrome to dictate information for a weekly report versus typing the information.

Additionally, under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and regulations, an employer is required to treat pregnant employees who are temporarily unable to perform the functions of their job because of a pregnancy-related condition the same as the employer would treat other employees with temporary disabilities. If the employer accommodates employees with temporary disabilities by providing modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leaves, or leave without pay, then a pregnant employee should be similarly accommodated.

Even though federal law may not require an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation or modified tasks for pregnancy in all cases, state and local laws may have different requirements. Several states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, require employers to meet reasonable accommodation requirements for pregnant employees, even those with otherwise normal pregnancies. Certain municipalities, such as New York City and Philadelphia, also have ordinances requiring employers to accommodate pregnant women. Although the state and local laws vary, employers should familiarize themselves with all laws applicable to their business to understand if accommodation is required and the types of accommodation required to ensure they are in compliance. Additionally, even if an employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s pregnancy under the federal ADA or applicable state or local laws, employers should remember that pregnant employees may enjoy other protections under applicable federal and state laws, including Title VII and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Because court opinions relating to accommodating pregnant workers have not been consistent, employers should discuss questions about whether a pregnant employee requires accommodation with employment counsel.

Minneapolis City Council approves minimum wage to reach $15 — MINNESOTA — Minimum wage

The Minneapolis City Council approved a municipal minimum wage ordinance on June 30, 2017, that will require large employers to pay workers in Minneapolis $15 an hour in five years and gives small employers seven years to reach the $15 target wage.

Large businesses with more than 100 employees will see the following increases: $10 per hour on January 1, 2018; $11.25 on July 1, 2018; $12.25 on July 1, 2019; $13.25 on July 1, 2020; $14.25 on July 1, 2021; and $15 per hour on July 1, 2022. Staring July 1, 2023, increases will be indexed to inflation.

Small businesses with 100 or fewer workers will see increases as follows: No increase January 1, 2018; $10.25 per hour on July 1, 2018; $11 on July 1, 2019; $11.75 on July 1, 2020; $12.50 on July 1, 2021; $13.50 on July 1, 2022; $14.50 on July 1, 2023; and $15 on July 1, 2024. After 2024, the minimum wage will be indexed to inflation.

Consistent with state law, the local minimum wage rate will apply to anyone who works in Minneapolis for any amount of time.

The Department of Civil Rights will oversee enforcement of the minimum wage. Employees will have a private cause of action or may bring a civil action in district court for violations of the ordinance.

An increase in the minimum wage is expected to benefit 23 percent of workers (about 71,000) in Minneapolis.

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