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Accommodations for Pregnancy Related Conditions
The Oregon Legislature recently passed House Bill 2341 (2019) which provides additional employee protections related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, including lactation.1 The law becomes effective January 1, 2020. 

Existing state law has long prohibited employers from discriminating against pregnant employees. Additionally, the Oregon Family Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of protected leave to eligible employees of covered employers for qualify conditions. In the case of pregnancy disability, an employee may also qualify for up to an additional 12 weeks of leave. 

Under HB 2341, employers with six or more employees will also need to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with pregnancy related conditions. Specifically, HB 2341 makes it unlawful for an employer to:
  • Deny employment opportunities to an applicant or employee based on the need to make reasonable accommodation to the known limitations relating to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, including but not limited to lactation;
  • Fail or refuse to make reasonable accommodation to these known limitations, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship;
  • Take an adverse employment action or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an applicant or an employee, with respect to hire or tenure, or any other term or condition of employment, because the applicant or employee has inquired about, requested or used a reasonable accommodation;
  • Require an applicant or an employee to accept a reasonable accommodation that is unnecessary to perform the essential duties of the job or to accept a reasonable accommodation if the applicant or employee does not have a known limitation; or 
  • Require an employee to take family leave, or any other leave, if the employer can make reasonable accommodation to the known limitations.

Employers also will need to post signs in a conspicuous and accessible location informing employees of these new discrimination protections and their right to reasonable accommodation for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth and pregnancy related medical conditions, including but not limited to lactation. BOLI has developed a template​ for this notice which employers may adapt. In addition to posting, employers will need to provide a written copy of the notice to:
  • New employees, at the time of hire;
  • Existing employees, by June 29, 2020 (180 days after the effective date of HB 2341 (2019); and
  • Any employee who informs the employer of the employee’s pregnancy, within 10 days.

Q: Which employers are covered by this law?

A: All Oregon employers with six or more employees.

Q: Which employees are covered?

A: All employees or candidates with known limitations related to pregnancy related medical conditions including lactation. Unlike OFLA or even Oregon’s sick time law, there is no waiting period prior to becoming eligible for these protections. 

Q: What “reasonable accommodations” will employers need to provide?

A: Under the new law, a reasonable accommodation is not specifically limited, but may include:
  • Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices; 
  • More frequent or longer break periods or periodic rest; 
  • Assistance with manual labor; or 
  • Modification of work schedules or job assignments.

Q: When does reasonable accommodation become unreasonable? 

A: It becomes unreasonable if it would cause the employer an undue hardship. An undue hardship is an action that is significantly difficult or expensive in relation to the size of the employer, the resources available and the nature of the business. Undue hardship is not a bright-line test. An employer that refuses an accommodation based on undue hardship should be prepared to prove that the accommodation would in fact create an undue hardship.

[1] Employers should also be aware of another legislative change, HB 2593 (2019), which expands Oregon protections for the expression of breastmilk​ on the job as well. [Back]

July 2019

Nothing on this website is intended as legal advice.  Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them, and not intended to apply to any other situations.  This communication is not an agency order.  If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.  We attempt to update the information on this website as soon as practicable following changes or developments in the laws and rules affecting Oregon employers, but we make no warranties or representations, express or implied, about whether the information provided is current.  We urge you to check the applicable statutes and administrative rules yourself and to consult with legal counsel prior to taking action that may invoke employee rights or employer responsibilities or omitting to act when required by law to act.