I’ve heard that employers have a duty to accommodate pregnant employees. What is a “duty to accommodate”?

“Duty to accommodate” means that employers have a responsibility to make changes to rules or physical environments as needed to prevent discrimination. This is an important part of human rights law. It recognizes that sometimes it is necessary to treat someone differently in order to be fair. For example, changing a woman’s work schedule to allow breaks for breastfeeding.

The employer must make changes to the point of “undue hardship.” This means that the employer must make the changes unless the costs become so high or the disruption to business so great that it is not bearable. To claim undue hardship, the employer must provide evidence of the hardship.

Situations involving the duty to accommodate must be looked at on a case-by-case basis, according to the person’s needs. Accommodation involves communication and cooperation between you and your employer.

You can learn more about “duty to accommodate” and about human rights protections for pregnant women and parents from the Alberta Human Rights Commission website.