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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

State Agencies Team Up To Promote Legal Protections For Pregnant Workers

A pregnant woman in a light blue shirt seated on and holding her stomach.
A recent law offers legal protections for pregnant workers who ask employers for "reasonable accommodations." State agencies produced two new videos - one for employees and one for employers - to promote the law.

Several state agencies in Vermont are teaming up to promote new legal protections for pregnant workers. The new state law — which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 — protects workers who ask for "reasonable accommodations” related to pregnancy.

The Vermont Commission on Women and other state agencies worked together to produce two videos about the new rules — one video for employers and one video for employees:

“Part of what we're hoping to do with this education campaign about the new law is to also raise the awareness in general of the right not to be discriminated against when you're pregnant ... and that sometimes just some small changes can be made to help someone stay at work,” said Cary Brown, executive director of the Vermont Commission on Women.

A recent New York Times story described widespread pregnancy discrimination in some of the country’s largest companies.

Brown said she hasn’t done a comprehensive study of pregnancy discrimination in Vermont, but with this law “we’re a little bit ahead of the game in the legal protections we have for pregnant employees.”

“I will say though that in addition to hearing stories from women who couldn’t get some accommodations made while they were pregnant, we also heard a lot of stories from women who felt they were being overtly discriminated against while pregnant,” Brown said.

The videos say reasonable accommodations might include giving an employee rest breaks or a stool to sit on and that employers and employees will have to work together to find the right accommodations.

Twenty-two other states and Washington, D.C., have similar laws.

Disclosure: Vermont Department of Health is a VPR underwriter.

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