During the 2020 General Assembly Session, Virginia’s legislature finally passed a bill to protect pregnant workers. Beginning on July 1, if you are working while pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or need to express milk at work, and if you work for a qualifying employer, you will no longer have to choose between your health and your job. Virginia law now provides you with an explicit right to reasonable pregnancy accommodation at work.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia worked with our allies to pass this bill through the House and Senate because reproductive rights and justice do not just mean the right to abortion or birth control, they also mean the right to have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities, free from discrimination. This is a small step forward for Virginia’s workers. Paid family and medical leave, affordable childcare options, and other services and benefits are necessary to ensure that workers in Virginia truly won’t have to choose between taking care of themselves and their families and work. We look forward to continuing to do the work towards a better Virginia.
The VA PWFA:
- Protects pregnant employees and those who have recently given birth from discrimination in the workplace. Employers must allow employees with limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition to make changes to their work duties or schedule so they can stay healthy and on the job – i.e. provide “reasonable accommodations.”
- Applies to you if you are pregnant, recovering from childbirth, nursing, or have a related medical condition, and you work for a Virginia employer that has 5 or more employees.
- Entitles you to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, as long as the accommodations would not impose an “undue hardship” on your employer, meaning they would be very difficult or expensive to provide.
- Prevents your employer from being able to force you to take leave from work if a reasonable accommodation can be provided to keep you healthy and on the job.
- Requires your employer to work together with you in an interactive process to figure out the right accommodation to meet your needs.
- Ensures that if you are discriminated against by an employer you have remedies, including being able to go to court and receive damages. You should contact an employment attorney if you believe that your employer is failing to follow the law.
IMPORTANT: You do not need to have a disability to receive pregnancy accommodations. If you have a limitation related to your pregnancy, and so, for example, need accommodations to prevent health problems before they arise, you can receive a reasonable accommodation, such as light-duty or access to a water bottle, so long as it does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.
IMPORTANT: There are federal laws that also protect pregnant people, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act also provides protections for pregnant people whose pregnancy causes a medical disability (that is, impairments resulting from pregnancy, for example, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia). To learn more about protections provided by federal law, see HERE.
Read the language of the bill HERE.
For legal help, if you think you are facing pregnancy discrimination call A Better Balance’s free, confidential legal helpline at 1-833-NEED-ABB (1-833-633-3222) to speak with an attorney about your workplace rights around pregnancy and family care or contact the Virginia Office of the Attorney General.