In Rhode Island, discrimination based on pregnancy is prohibited. The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions unless there is a concern based on a bona fide occupational qualification.
All state employers are covered by the law, as well as private employers with greater than 4 employees.
Employers are prohibited from engaging in unlawful employment practices including a failure to reasonably accommodate an employee's or prospective employee's condition related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The duty to accommodate extends to breast feeding needs, among others. The employer must demonstrate that the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the employer's program, enterprise or business in order to avoid satisfying the accommodation.
The employer is required to demonstrate that the accommodation would present significant difficulty or expense to the employer to establish an undue hardship. If the employer provides similar accommodations to other employees, it will be difficult for them to argue that similar accommodations will be an undue hardship. In addition, employers may not require the employee to take a leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
It is important for employees in Rhode Island to understand that pregnancy discrimination is prohibited and to understand not only what their rights are but how to enforce those rights if they are violated. Important legal protections are in place to protect the livelihood of workers who rely on their jobs to support themselves and their families.
Source: BLR.com, "Rhode Island Maternity and Pregnancy: What you need to know," Accessed Sept. 26, 2017