209740-1:n:02/04/2021:ANS/cr LSA2021-391




HB352
By Representative Rafferty
RFD Judiciary
Rd 1 09-FEB-21


SYNOPSIS:Under existing state law, employees in Alabama have no protections against pregnancy discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
This bill would create the Alabama Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for employees related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the employer.
This bill would require employers to post a notice of employee rights and authorize the Department of Labor to administer and enforce the Alabama Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

A BILL
TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT

Relating to unlawful employment practices; to create the Alabama Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to provide workplace protections against pregnancy discrimination and related medical conditions; to add Chapter 15 to Title 25, Code of Alabama 1975; and to amend Sections 25-2-2 and 25-2-7, Code of Alabama 1975.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. Chapter 15, commencing with Section 25-15-1, is added to Title 25, Code of Alabama 1975, to read as follows:

25-15-1.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Alabama Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

25-15-2.

Alabama currently has no workplace laws to protect pregnant women from being constructively discharged or terminated due to medical conditions resulting from pregnancy. Many pregnant women are single mothers or the primary wage-earners for their families; if a pregnant woman loses her job, the whole family could suffer. This is income that Alabama's working families cannot afford to lose. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to combat pregnancy discrimination, promote public health, and ensure full participation for women in the labor force by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.

25-15-3.

As used in this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) EMPLOYER. Any person employing 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of that person.

(2) REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION. Any change or modification in the work environment or the normal course of business for an individual with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

(3) RELATED MEDICAL CONDITION. Any condition medically resulting from, or pertaining to, pregnancy or childbirth.

(4) UNDUE HARDSHIP. An accommodation that would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer's size, financial resources, and the needs of the business.

25-15-4.

(a) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to do any of the following:

(1) Refuse to make reasonable accommodations for any condition of a job applicant or employee related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, including, but not limited to, the need to express breast milk, if the employee or applicant so requests, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer's program, enterprise, or business.

(2) Take adverse action against an employee who requests or uses an accommodation in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, including, but not limited to, counting an absence related to pregnancy under no fault attendance policies or failing to reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits, and other applicable service credits when the need for a reasonable accommodation ceases.

(3) Deny employment opportunities to a job applicant or employee if the denial is based on the need of the employer to make a reasonable accommodation to any known condition related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition of the applicant or employee.

(4) Require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to any known conditions related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of an employee.

(b) The employer shall engage in a timely, good faith, and interactive process with the employee to identify effective reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

(1) More frequent or longer breaks.

(2) Acquisition or modification of equipment.

(3) Seating.

(4) Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position.

(5) Job restructuring.

(6) Light duty.

(7) Break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk.

(8) Time off to recover from childbirth.

(9) Assistance with manual labor.

(10) Modified work schedules.

(c)(1) An employer shall consider all of the following factors when determining whether a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship:

a. The nature and cost of the accommodation needed.

b. The overall financial resources of the employer.

c. The overall size of the business of the employer with respect to the number of its employees.

d. The number, type, and location of the business facilities.

e. The effect on expenses and resources or other impact of the accommodation upon the operations of the employer.

(2) The employer shall have the burden of proving undue hardship. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer if the employer provides or would be required to provide a similar accommodation to other classes of employees.

25-15-5.

An employer shall provide written notice of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, pursuant to this section to new employees at the commencement of employment and to existing employees by January 1, 2022. The notice shall be conspicuously posted at an employer's place of business in an area accessible to employees.

25-15-6.

(a) Any applicant or employee who is aggrieved under this chapter may bring a cause of action against the employer in the county where the applicant applied for a position. An employee aggrieved under this chapter may bring a cause of action in the county where the employee worked. An employee shall not be required to pursue any administrative action or remedy prior to filing suit under this section.

(b) If an employer is found to have engaged in an unlawful employment practice under this chapter, the employee shall be awarded attorney's fees, prejudgment interest, back pay, compensatory damages, and any legal or equitable relief that will effect the purpose of this chapter.

25-15-7.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to preempt, limit, diminish, or otherwise affect any other provision of federal, state, or local law relating to discrimination based on sex or pregnancy, or to invalidate or limit the remedies, rights, and procedures of any federal, state, or local law that provides greater or equal protection for employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Section 2. Sections 25-2-2 and 25-2-7, Code of Alabama 1975, are amended to read as follows:

25-2-2.

"(a) The general functions and duties of the Department of Labor shall be as follows:

"(1) To administer all labor laws and all laws relating to the relationship between employer and employee, including laws relating to hours of work, and working conditions in places of employment.

"(2) To make or cause to be made all necessary inspections to determine whether or not the laws, the administration of which is delegated to the Department of Labor, and rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto to those laws, are being complied with by employers and employees, and to take such action as may be necessary to enforce compliance; provided, however, that there shall be no inspection of boilers which have been inspected, approved, and insured by an insurance company authorized to do business in the State of Alabama. Provided, however, that this provision may not prevent compliance verification by the department.

"(3) To propose to the board of appeals, provided for in this chapter, such rules and regulations, or amendments as may be deemed advisable for the prevention of accidents or the prevention of sickness and diseases in mines. The Secretary of Labor may appoint committees composed of employers, employees, and experts to suggest and assist in the preparation of rules and regulations or amendments.

"(4) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 4 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 4 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(5) To cooperate with all authorities of the United States having powers and duties under the Wagner-Peyser Act, approved June 6, 1933, (48 Stat. 113, United States Code, Title 29, Section 49 29 U.S.C. 49), entitled "An Act to provide for the establishment of a national employment system and for cooperation with the states in the promotion of such system and for other purposes," and to do and perform all things necessary to secure for the State of Alabama the benefits of such that act and the promotion and maintenance of a system of public employment offices. The Department of Labor is hereby designated as the state agency and vested with all powers necessary to cooperate with the United States Employment Service or its successor.

"(6) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 5 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 5 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(7) To make investigations and studies and to collect, collate, and compile statistical information and to make and publish reports concerning the conditions of labor generally, including living conditions, hours of work, wages paid, and all matters relating to the enforcement and effect of the provisions of this title coming under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and the rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto to this title and other laws relating to the Department of Labor. The Secretary of Labor shall deliver a copy of each such report to every person making application therefor.

"(8) To make an annual report to the Governor covering the activities and accomplishments of the Department of Labor during the preceding fiscal year, accompanied by the recommendations of the Secretary of Labor. The report shall be printed and the Secretary of Labor shall deliver a copy to every person making application therefor.

"(9) To make recommendations to the Legislature for the enactment of laws which that, on the basis of information and statistics compiled by the Department of Labor, appear to be desirable for the protection of laborers and for promoting and fostering amicable relations between employers and employees.

"(10) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Section 25-2-7, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Section 25-2-7, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(11) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 7 of this title and such other statutes as may be provided by law and to advise the Governor with respect to the provisions thereof of Chapter 7, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 7 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(12) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 8 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 8 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(13) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 9 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 9 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(14) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 10 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 10 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(15) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 11 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 11 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(16) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 12 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 12 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(17) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 13 of this title, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 13 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(18) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 14 of this title, and it shall have power and authority to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 14 of this title, necessary or suitable to that end.

"(19) To administer and perform, by and under the direction of the Secretary of Labor, all functions and duties of Chapter 15, and to adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, and to require any reports, and to take any other action, consistent with Chapter 15 necessary or suitable to that end.

"(b) The combining of the functions of the Department of Industrial Relations and Department of Labor made by Act 2012-496 shall reduce administrative costs and expenses paid from the State General Fund by an amount equal to at least 20 percent of the amount appropriated from the State General Fund to the Department of Labor for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012.

25-2-7.

"(a) All functions and duties of the Department of Labor shall be exercised by the Secretary of Labor acting personally or by and through such administrative divisions or such officers or employees as he or she may designate. The Secretary of Labor shall have all power and authority necessary or convenient to carry out the functions and duties of the Department of Labor. It shall be the duty of the The Secretary of Labor to shall administer Chapter 4 of this title and he or she shall have power and authority to may adopt and enforce all reasonable rules and orders necessary or suitable to that end, require any reports and take any other action consistent with the provisions of Chapter 4 necessary or suitable to that end.

"(b) To the end that strikes, lockouts, boycotts, blacklists, and discriminations may be avoided, the secretary shall have authority and it shall be his or her duty to investigate labor disputes and to promote the peaceful and voluntary adjustment and settlement thereof.

"(c) It shall be the duty of the The secretary to shall make available to any board of mediation appointed by the Governor pursuant to Section 25-7-4 all data and information in his or her the custody or possession of the secretary relevant or pertinent to any matter which such that the board of mediation may have been appointed to consider, and to render to any such the board of mediation such assistance as it may request of him or her the secretary in the discharge of its official duties.

"(d) It shall be the duty of the The secretary to shall administer and enforce the Alabama state child labor law laws relating to minimum age of employment, hours of work, places of employment, and prohibited occupations.

"(e) It shall be the duty of the The secretary to shall investigate and attempt equitably to adjust controversies in with respect to wage claims or alleged wage claims.

"(f) The secretary shall administer and enforce the Alabama Pregnant Workers Fairness Act."

Section 3. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.


Employment
Employers
Unlawful Employment Practices
Code Added
Code Amended