Alert: Women's Economic Security Act
On Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014, Governor Dayton signed into law a package of bills known as the Women’s Economic Security Act (“WESA”), intended to improve the workplace for women in Minnesota. Among other things, WESA provides more flexibility for pregnant women and nursing mothers by requiring employers to provide workplace accommodations for pregnant women, reasonable unpaid break time, and a private room for the use of nursing mothers. WESA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request such accommodations. The new law requires employers with 21 or more employees at one site to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (up from 6 weeks) as pregnancy and parenting leave under Minnesota Statutes Section181.94. WESA amends the Minnesota Human Rights Act to prohibit employment discrimination based on “familial status.” WESA also prohibits employers from requiring employees not to disclose their wages as a condition of employment and from taking adverse employment action against an employee who does. In addition, the new law requires most state contractors with 40 or more employees to certify that they pay men and women equal wages for similar jobs. Minnesota employers should amend their policies as necessary to comply with these sweeping new changes.