New Mexico’s recently enacted HB 25, known as the Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act, amends the New Mexico Human Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination against workers because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law goes into effect on May 20, 2020, which is 90 days after the state legislature adjourned.
In addition to generally prohibiting employment discrimination on these bases, the new legislation requires employers with 4 or more employees to engage in a good faith interactive process and make reasonable accommodations in connection with an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions, absent undue hardship. Such accommodations may include modifying or adapting the employee’s work environment, work schedule, work rules, or job responsibilities for “as long as necessary.”
Like the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, the New Mexico law contains an “undue hardship” exception that excuses employers from providing a particular accommodation if it would result in significant difficulty or expense to the employer. The law sets forth nine factors to consider when analyzing whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship.
Employers Cannot Force Employees to Take Leave as an Accommodation
Employers may be wondering whether they are required to provide leave as an accommodation under these new provisions. While providing a leave of absence may be a reasonable accommodation under certain circumstances, employers are prohibited from requiring an employee “with a need arising from pregnancy, childbirth or condition related to pregnancy or childbirth” to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available and the employee does not voluntarily request to be placed on leave.
What Employers Should Do
New Mexico employers covered by the Human Rights Act should review and consider revising company policies and procedures governing reasonable accommodations and absences related to pregnancy and childbirth to ensure compliance with the amended law. The changes should also be communicated directly to managers with responsibility for engaging in the interactive process with employees. Also watch for the New Mexico Department of Workforce Development to publish an updated poster of employee rights under the Human Rights Act for purposes of meeting state-mandated posting requirements.
Employers utilizing a third-party administrator or insurance carrier should also verify integration of this job protection tracking with any applicable paid leave programs.
What ReedGroup is Doing
ReedGroup is evaluating its products and services to determine how this new law impacts its customers. Please reach out to your Account Executive for further detail on how this may impact your leave program.
If you’re looking for assistance managing claims or to ensure compliance across your organization, ReedGroup has solutions for you. Check out our offerings here.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.