Louisiana Passes New Laws Requiring Accommodations for Pregnancy and Limiting the Use of Criminal History During Hiring

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Louisiana Passes New Laws Requiring Accommodations for Pregnancy and Limiting the Use of Criminal History During Hiring

Louisiana has recently introduced two major employment laws limiting the use of criminal history for hiring and requiring the accommodation of pregnant employees. Both of these new laws will take effect on August 1st, 2021.

Act No. 393 Pregnancy Accommodation

In recent years many states have passed laws requiring the accommodation of pregnant employees and now Louisiana has joined them.

Act No. 393 amends the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law modifying its prohibition on pregnancy discrimination to include a responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations for physical limitations related to pregnancy. These new rules will apply to all employers with 25 or more employees.

Louisiana’s former pregnancy discrimination laws required employers to provide certain accommodations, such as transfers to less strenuous positions or leaves of absence but not a general duty to provide accommodations, such as under the ADA.

Under Act No. 393, employers will be legally required to provide reasonable accommodations unless they are capable of demonstrating that this would create an undue hardship. This puts the weight of proving that an accommodation would prove an undue hardship on the employer. 

In addition to creating a general duty to provide accommodations, the law also provides certain specific accommodations that employers must provide. These include:

  • Providing longer or more frequent break periods as well as more frequent bathroom breaks
  • Providing seating and the opportunity to sit more frequently
  • Providing assistance with and limits on lifting as well as restructuring the job or providing light duty as necessary
  • Modifying or providing new equipment as necessary to perform necessary job duties
  • Transfer to a less strenuous or dangerous position
  • Modifying policies regarding food or drink as well as providing a private location to express breast milk other than a bathroom stall
  • Modifying working schedules

Employers will be responsible for posting a new notice of workplace rights to notify employees by December 1st, 2021, and it is likely that the Louisiana Department of Labor will create a poster for just such a purpose.

Act No. 406 Limiting Use of Criminal History

Louisiana’s Act No. 406 is the first such law in the state restricting the use of criminal history in the hiring process. This law provides restrictions closely matching existing EEOC guidelines, so it should not prove too challenging for most employers to adapt.

This new law will prohibit employers from considering an applicant’s arrest so long as it did not result in a conviction. For applicants convicted of a crime, employers must consider whether the specific offense has a direct relationship to the job in question that may justify an adverse action.

Before making such a judgement, employers should consider these factors:

  • Nature and severity of the offense
  • Time elapsed since the occurrence
  • Nature of the employment sought

This new law will apply to all employers regardless of size; however, as of yet, the law does not provide for a civil cause of action or penalty for its violation. Regardless, it is advisable that employers take steps to follow the law in order to be safe.