August 8, 2017
Alumna Laura Sylvester MPPA/MPH '16 is highlighted in an alumni profile piece appearing on the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences website. The profile recounts how Sylvester recently celebrated the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act - a bill she helped create and shape as a graduate student - at a signing ceremony with Governor Baker and other at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on July 27.
According to the SBS website, Sylvester, who is now the Legislative and Community Partnership Coordinator at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, first drafted the bill as a class project and continued to analyze and refine it through several courses while a graduate student in the dual degree program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences and the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Policy.
The legislation, officially known as Massachusetts Bill H.3680, closes loopholes in federal regulations by amending statewide law to guarantee pregnant employees will have equal treatment in the workplace during their pregnancy and after giving birth. Specifically, it prevents employers from denying workers reasonable accommodations such as “more frequent or longer paid breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, acquisition or modification or equipment or seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, and modified work schedules” during pregnancy.