Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez is backing a bill looking to beef up rights for pregnant employees.
The bill (SB 384) makes it unlawful to “fail to make reasonable accommodations, upon request, for an employee with a medical need related to pregnancy.” Those requests could include more frequent or longer breaks, temporary job restructuring or changes in work schedules, or a move to “less strenuous or less hazardous work.”
Employers can be exempt from making such changes if the employer “can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.”
Without demonstrating such a hardship, employers must make the workplace more open to pregnant employees, such as by providing a “private, non-restroom space for lactation or the expression of breast milk.”
Employers are also blocked from rejecting a job applicant, or denying a promotion for an existing employee, “if such denial is based on the employer’s need to make reasonable accommodations for the applicant or employee because of a medical need related to pregnancy.”
Employees could no longer be forced “to take leave because of a medical need related to pregnancy if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.” Should an employee require such a leave or other accommodation, employers cannot deny that employee “her original position, or an equivalent position, with equivalent pay, seniority, and benefits after the need for such accommodation ceases.”
The bill would go into effect on July 1, 2021 if approved during next year’s Legislative Session. No companion bill has yet been filed in the House.
The new rights would be provided by the employer to new employees. Under the bill, existing employees who become pregnant must be told of the changes within 10 days. All other employees would have to be notified by Nov. 1, 2021. Written notices would also be required.
Rodriguez took over the Senate District 39 seat, vacated by term-limited Anitere Flores. Rodriguez previously served one term in the House. She defeated Democratic Rep. Javier Fernández in November as part of Republicans’ dominance this cycle in Miami-Dade County.