Kentucky Legislation Supports Workplace Accommodations for Pregnant and Nursing Women
A new bill dubbed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act could make Kentucky the 24th state to require workplace accommodations like more breaks, fair treatment, and support for pregnant women and employees who are nursing. The act will ensure no pregnant woman is forced out of work while pregnant when a reasonable accommodation would keep her both healthy and on the job. The law would be designed similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act and has been building popularity slowly across the U.S. So far though, the only Southeast state to pass a similar law is South Carolina. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has voiced her support for the Kentucky Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act.
As of now there are no state or federal laws in place that protects expectant or new mothers from sudden unemployment as long as her employer can give a valid reason for terminating and may include:
- The company is creating smaller budgets;
- The women’s work performance reviews were poor and had unresolvable issues;
- The company has reorganized and is no longer in need of the employee;
- Or, the company went through a buyout and downsized staffing.
Although difficult to prove, these rationales may not truly be the case. Instead, these reasons often provide a safe haven for an employer to make the case that a worker is being let go for reasons unrelated to her pregnancy or nursing circumstances.
Pregnant Women and Work-Related Injuries
Sometimes when accommodations are not met, nursing or pregnant workers (and even their unborn child) can easily become injured. Expectant mothers who are injured on the job in Kentucky, are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation laws just as any other employee – with few exceptions for independent contractors, domestic workers, and most volunteers. Workers’ compensation provides injured workers with compensation for medical costs, temporary disability, or permanent disability if lingering injuries or impairments are present and covers physical injuries and occupational diseases brought about by work activities. Examples of illness or injuries that may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits could include, slip-and-falls, injuries resulting from equipment failure or defective machinery, and sicknesses contracted from exposure to toxins at work. Injuries resulting from repeated stressors (such as a lower back injury) or exposure to excessive noise (hearing loss) may also be cause for a claim. Psychological injury is not covered unless it is specifically a result of a physical injury occurring at work.
If an injury occurs or an expectant mother is diagnosed with an illness related to work, it should be reported to the employer immediately and prompt medical help should be sought for the both the safety of the mother and unborn child.
For more information, see Kentucky’s guidebook to workers’ comp or contact a work injury attorney at Rhoads & Rhoads.
Contact a Madisonville or Owensboro Workers’ Comp Attorney
With offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads offers free initial consultations, and there is no payment required up front. Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with one of our Madisonville or Owensboro workers’ compensation attorneys.