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Joint Enforcement Effort Launched to Protect Pregnant Workers

Monday, June 1, 2015
OHR and DOES partnership aims to ensure pregnant workers receive accommodations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 1, 2015

CONTACT:

Elliot Imse, Director of Policy and Communications (OHR) – 202.481.3773; [email protected]

Christina Tucker, Director of Strategic Communications (DOES) – 202.671.1163; [email protected]

 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) and the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) announced a joint effort to investigate and enforce alleged violations of the Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014 (PPW). The Act requires reasonable accommodations be provided to employees who are limited in their ability to perform job duties because of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or a related medical condition. OHR released a fact sheet and workplace poster to assist employers and employees in understanding protections provided by the law.

“Women are vital members of our workforce in the District and this new statute includes protections for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or who are struggling with complications related to a pregnancy or childbirth,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “This law not only protects the health and safety of pregnant women, but ensures they can keep their jobs and help their families remain economically stable – a key priority in Mayor Bowser’s ‘Pathway to the Middle Class.’ The types of workplace accommodations required can make a significant difference to a pregnant or breastfeeding worker.”

Reasonable accommodations for workers could include more frequent breaks, refraining from heavy lifting, providing private space for expressing breast milk, or temporarily transferring the employee to a less hazardous position, among others. An employer may require documentation from a healthcare provider indicating a reasonable accommodation is advisable, but may not take an adverse action against an employee for requesting an accommodation.

Individuals who believe they were denied an accommodation in violation of the law or treated adversely because of a request for an accommodation can file a complaint with OHR or DOES. OHR will mediate and investigate the complaint, and make a preliminary recommendation on whether a violation occurred. An administrative law judge at DOES will then review the recommendation and make a final determination. DOES may impose and enforce penalties when a violation is found.

“The Department of Employment Services is committed to ensuring all workers’ rights are protected,” said DOES Director Deborah Carroll. “This joint effort between DOES and OHR will bring public awareness to the protections and rights of expectant and new working mothers in the District of Columbia in order to prevent pregnancy discrimination, ensure that pregnant and post-pregnancy workers know their rights to reasonable accommodations in the workplace, and promote workplace fairness.”

District employers are required to post an informational poster about the law in English and Spanish within the workplace, and provide an employee with information about the law within 10 days of receiving notice that she is pregnant. Workplace posters and additional information about the law is available at ohr.dc.gov/page/pregnantworkers.

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About the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights

The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) was established to eradicate discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect human rights for persons who live in or visit the District of Columbia. The agency enforces local and federal human rights laws, including the DC Human Rights Act, by providing a legal process to those who believe they have been discriminated against. OHR also proactively enforces human rights in the District through Director’s Inquiries, which allow it to identify and investigate practices and policies that may be discriminatory. 

About the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services

The mission of the Department of Employment Services is to plan, develop, and administer employment-related services to all segments of the Washington, DC metropolitan population. We achieve our mission through empowering and sustaining a diverse workforce, which enables all sectors of the community to achieve economic and social stability.