New Law Relating to Pregnancy Accommodations

Effective on July 23, 2017


Effective July 23, 2017, Washington employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to their pregnant employees and may not discriminate against pregnant employees on the basis that the employer will have to provide these accommodations.

The summary of the law is as follows:

It is an unfair practice for any employer to:

  • Fail or refuse to make reasonable accommodation for an employee for pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship —undue hardship means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense;
  • Take adverse action against an employee who requests, declines, or uses an accommodation;
  • And deny employment opportunities to an otherwise qualified employee if the denial is based on the employer's need to make reasonable accommodation;

Reasonable accommodation means:

  • Providing more frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks;
  • Modifying a no food or drink policy;
  • Job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, or acquiring or modifying equipment, devices, or an employee's work station;
  • Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires standing;
  • Providing a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position;
  • Providing assistance with manual labor and limits on lifting;
  • Scheduling flexibility for prenatal visits;
  • And any further accommodation an employee may request, and to which an employer must give reasonable consideration to in consultation with information provided by the Department of Labor and Industries or the attending health care provider.

An employer may not claim undue hardship or require written certification from an employee for:

  • Providing more frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks;
  • Modifying a no food or drink policy;
  • Or providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires standing.”

Learn more here: Final Bill Report SSB 5835

The full text of the law is here: Substitute Senate Bill 5835

Kirk Esmond