Accommodation of New Parents and Pregnant Workers
The Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act requires employers with twenty-one or more workers to offer reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. “Workers” in this context refers to those employees who have worked for twelve consecutive months on a full-time or half-time schedule. Employers are required to provide additional food, water, and restroom breaks for pregnant workers. The employer is also prohibited from denying a pregnant worker any seating-related changes or asking them to lift items weighing over twenty pounds. In some cases, employers may be required to transfer pregnant women to job positions that are less stressful or strenuous. However, the provision does not require the employer to create a new position or promote a pregnant employee.
The Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act also adds to the accommodations provided to nursing mothers. Although previously there was a law requiring employers to offer a space to nursing mothers where they can express breast milk, the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act requires employers to offer nursing mothers a private room, other than a toilet stall or a bathroom, that is free from intrusion from intrusions from the public or coworkers, features an electric outlet, and is shielded from view. A civil lawsuit may be brought against an employer who retaliates against workers for asserting this provision, as well as an employer who violates this provision. In such a scenario, an employer may be liable for a workers’ back pay, attorneys’ fee, court costs, and actual damages. This provision applies to all employers.
Additional Parenting and Pregnancy Leave
The Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act expanded the Minnesota law by providing workers with additional parenting and pregnancy leave. The provision enables certain employees to be granted twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Employees entitled to this provision include an adoptive or biological parent in conjunction with the adoption or birth of a child, and a female worker for prenatal care, or incapacity caused by childbirth pregnancy, or other pregnancy-related conditions. This provision applies to employers with twenty-one or more workers at one site, and workers who have been employed by that employer for at least twelve months. In this case, the twelve months do not necessarily need to be consecutive. Furthermore, the required leave may be decreased by any period of vacation or paid leave, in order that the total leave required is not more than 12 weeks.
Additional Safety leave and Sick Leave
Before the introduction of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act, Minnesota law required employers to allow their workers to use the number of accrued sick days to care for their children, parents, step-parents, grandparents, spouses, and siblings. The Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act expanded this provision to include grandchildren, fathers-in-law, and mothers-in-law. Minnesota employers with twenty-one employees or more are required to abide by this provision. The Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act also allows workers to substitute their sick leave for a safety leave. In this context, safety leave refers to leave for the purpose of receiving or providing assistance due to stalking, sexual assault, or domestic abuse.…