AN ACT ADDRESSING PREGNANCY-RELATED DISCRIMINATION AND REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE.
Identical to S 633, filed 4/6/21.
Enacts GS Chapter 168B, The North Carolina Healthy Pregnancy Act.
Establishes the public policy of the State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination or abridgment by employers. Specifies that the policy includes the right to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition. Sets forth nine defined terms applicable to the Chapter.
Requires an employer, employment agency, labor organization, place of public accommodation, or covered governmental entity to investigate whether there are reasonable accommodations that can be made, and make reasonable accommodations, once a qualified pregnant person has requested an accommodation or a potential accommodation is obvious in the circumstances. Defines employer to mean any person employing 15 or more employees within the State. Defines covered governmental entity to mean any State department, institution, agency or any political subdivision of the State or any person that contracts with any of those entities for the delivery of public services, including education, health, social services, recreation, and rehabilitation. Defines reasonable accommodation to mean, with regard to employment, making reasonable physical changes in the workplace, including 17 enumerated accommodations, ranging from making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to providing closer access to parking. Enumerates six actions that the term does not require of any employer, including hiring one or more employees for the purpose of enabling the pregnant person to be employed, or making any changes that would impose an undue hardship, as defined, on the employer.
Requires a qualified pregnant person requesting a reasonable accommodation to apprise the employer, employment agency, labor organization, place of public accommodation, or covered governmental entity of her pregnancy. Also requires the qualified pregnant person requesting a reasonable accommodation to submit any necessary medical documentation, make suggestions for possible accommodations known to the person, and cooperate in any discussion and evaluation aimed at determining possible or feasible accommodations.
Requires persons affected by pregnancy to be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other persons not affected but similar in their ability or inability to work. Establishes the following five actions by an employer which are unlawful, discriminatory practices: (1) to discriminate against a pregnant person with respect to compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the bases of a condition related to pregnancy, including failing to hire or consider for employment or promotion, or to discharge from employment; (2) for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment or otherwise discriminate against a pregnant person on the basis of a condition related to pregnancy; (3) for a person controlling a training or retraining program to discriminate against a pregnant person with respect to admission into or employment in the training or retraining program on the basis of a condition related to pregnancy; (4) for an employer, labor organization, or employment agency to fail to meet the duties under the Chapter; and (5) for an employer to fail or refuse to make reasonable accommodations for limitations arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions for an applicant or employee if so requested by the applicant or employee, unless the employer demonstrates that it would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of the employer.
Prohibits employers, employment agencies, or labor organizations from taking retaliatory action, as specified, against any person, applicant, or member because the person has opposed any practice made a discriminatory practice by the Chapter or because the person has testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in proceedings under the Chapter. Provides examples of retaliation under the statute, including requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided. Further, prohibits any entity or person covered under the Chapter from retaliating against, or coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a person who exercises rights under the Chapter or assist a person in exercising the person's rights under the Chapter.
Requires employers to post notices of the rights under the Chapter in the employer's place of business, as specified. Also requires individual notice (1) in writing to new employees, (2) orally or in writing to existing employees within 120 days after the effective date of the Chapter, and (3) orally or in writing within 10 days to any employee who notifies the employer of her pregnancy.
Establishes a civil action for enforcement of rights under the Chapter. Authorizes the court to award declaratory or injunctive relief and back pay of no more than three years prior to the date the action was filed. Also authorizes the court to award attorneys' fees to the substantially prevailing party. Establishes a three year statute of limitations, as specified.
Sets forth provisions regarding construction of the Chapter.
Applies to acts or omissions occurring on or after October 1, 2021.
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