Tennessee has enacted legislation (Senate Bill 2520) that protects pregnant workers. Senate Bill 2520 takes effect October 1, 2020.
Senate Bill 2520:
Tennessee employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from taking the following actions due to an individual's pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition:
- Failing or refusing to make reasonable accommodations for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition, unless it would impose an undue hardship on the business;
- Requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided;
- Taking adverse action against an employee for requesting or using a reasonable accommodation, including but not limited to, counting an absence related to pregnancy under no-fault attendance policies.
An employer may, if required of other employees with medical conditions, request that an employee with a medical need relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions provide certification from a healthcare professional when requesting a temporary transfer to a vacant position, job restructuring, light duty, or accommodations that require time away from work. During the time period in which an employee is making good faith efforts to obtain certification, an employer must engage in a good faith interactive process with the employee to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be provided absent undue hardship.
Employers are not required to take the following actions relating to pregnant employees, unless the employer already does, or would do so, for employees in need of a reasonable accommodation:
- Hire an employee that the employer would not have otherwise hired;
- Promote an employee who is not qualified to perform the new job, or discharge or transfer another employee with more seniority;
- Create a new position, which includes a light duty position for the employee, unless that type of position would be provided for another equivalent employee;
- Compensate the employee for more frequent or longer break periods, unless the employee uses a break period that would otherwise be compensated; or
- Construct a permanent space which is dedicated for expressing milk.
Under present law, one of the conditions of eligibility for unemployment benefits is that the claimant has been unemployed for a waiting period of one week. This amendment suspends the one-week waiting period in accordance with the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act and is in effect until January 1, 2021.
Covered employers should update their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Senate Bill 2520. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.