October 28, 2016

Medium and large Utah employers must provide reasonable accommodations to breastfeeding employees

The Utah Antidiscrimination Act prohibits Utah employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against their employees because of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions. And Utah’s 2016 legislative session expanded the legal protections afforded to employees with pregnancy-, childbirth-, or breastfeeding-related conditions.

Under the now-effective amendments to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act, an employer with 15 or more employees may not refuse to provide an employee with reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions if the employee requests an accommodation, unless the accommodation would expose the employer to an undue hardship. In the same vein, employers may not deny employment opportunities solely to avoid having to make a reasonable accommodation because of these conditions, unless the potential accommodation would subject the employer to an undue hardship. Whether any particular accommodation represents an undue hardship is decided on a case by case basis, but the law does make clear that employers are not required to allow employees to bring their children to work as an accommodation.

Importantly, this change in the law affects all employers with 15 or more employees regardless of whether an employee has actually requested a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-, childbirth-, or breastfeeding-related condition – these employers must now provide their employees with written notice concerning their rights to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions.

Additionally, public employers are required to provide a clean refrigerator in which to store breastmilk for employees that work in the office, and they must provide an insulated container for employees working outside the office.

Deciding how and when to accommodate an employee can be tricky and counterintuitive. Whether a particular accommodation would be reasonable or would expose an employer to an undue burden requires careful consideration. Strong & Hanni’s labor and employment attorneys regularly advise employers concerning accommodation and discrimination issues. We would love to help you.