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Health Start Law


In May 2017, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the Healthy Starts Act into law. This law provides a number of protections and support for pregnant women—not only in terms of health care, but also in the employment realm. The law requires workplaces with fifteen or more workers to provide accommodation to pregnant employees, and prohibits employers from termination women for requesting accommodation. Prior to the passage of this law, pregnant workers were entitled to reasonable accommodation only if they could show they had a “ disability” under state or federal law. There was no workplace protection for women experiencing the common symptoms or limitations of pregnancy that did not rise to the level of disability. Under the new law, examples of reasonable accommodation must be provided for include the following: providing more frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks; modifying a no-food or -drink policy; modifying an employee’s work station; allowing the employee to sit more frequently if her job requires her to stand; providing a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous job; providing assistance with manual labor; and modifying work schedules. Other pregnancy-related accommodations must be provided unless the employer can show that the requested accommodation would create an undue hardship.

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