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Policy on Pregnancy, Parenting and Caregiving

Wentworth Institute of Technology (hereinafter “Wentworth” or “University”) is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for people who are pregnant or parenting and for people who serve as a primary caregiver for children, parents, or people with disabilities. This commitment is echoed in University policy, which complies with state and federal law, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Act  and,  prohibits  discrimination  based  on  pregnancy or parenting in University programs or activities. 

Scope of the Policy

This Policy applies to all University students, employees, vendors, volunteers affiliated with the University and other third-party participants in University Programs and Activities. 

Nothing in this policy shall be read to conflict with established employment benefits or existing contracts. 

Section 1: Definitions

  • Advisor

    Any person who accompanies an individual to a meeting related to the coordination of supportive measures or accommodations for the purpose of providing support or guidance. The advisor does not have a speaking role in the process, but may be present in meetings related to this policy at the request of the individual seeking supportive measures/accommodations and may assist the individual in gathering and preparing documentation related to this process. Individuals who seek to exercise rights or privileges through the participation in a process or procedures under this policy have a right to bring an advisor to any and all related meetings between the individual and the University. 

  • Caregiver to Children 

    A person who is primarily responsible, either independently or jointly, for providing care to a child under the age of 12.

  • Caregiver to a Parent

    A person who is primarily responsible, either independently or jointly, for providing care to a parent who is over the age of 65.

  • Caregiver to a Person with a Disability

    A person who is primarily responsible, either independently or jointly, for providing care to a family member with a disability who requires substantial support in carrying out major life activities necessary for independent living. 

  • Discrimination based on Pregnancy or Parenting

    An intentional or unintentional act that adversely affects employment and/or educational opportunities that is related to pregnancy or parenting, as defined. Discrimination may be classified as either disparate impact (facially neutral practices that fall more harshly on one  group  than  another and cannot be justified by business necessity) or disparate treatment (treatment of an individual that is less favorable than treatment of others based on discriminatory reasons).

  • Educational Program or Activity 

    Locations, events, or circumstances over which the institution exercises substantial control, and includes any building owned or controlled by the University.

  • Eligible Caregiver

    Person who is a Caregiver to a Child, A Caregiver to a Parent, or a Caregiver to a Person with a Disability, as defined.

  • Interactive Process

    The procedure through which the University works together with pregnant and parenting individuals and/or eligible caregivers for the purpose of identifying and coordinating reasonable accommodations and/or supportive measures. The Interactive Process includes a review of obstacles to access and a discussion of possible accommodations and/or supportive measures.

  • Medical Necessity 

    A determination made by a health care provider of a student’s or employee’s choosing.

  • Parenting

    The status of being a parent. A parent includes biological parents, step parents, adoptive parents, and legal guardians.

  • Pregnancy/Pregnancy Related Conditions

    Conditions related to pregnancy, which include but are not limited to pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, conditions arising in connection with pregnancy, and recovery from any of these conditions, in accordance with federal law.

  • Reasonable Accommodations 

    A change or individualized modification to the environment or operations that allow a person who is pregnant to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to University programs or activities. Wentworth will provide appropriate and reasonable employment accommodations to pregnant and parenting students, employees, and third parties unless doing so would create an undue hardship, compromise the health and safety of members of the University community, or fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s employment mission.

    Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, leaves of absence, excused absences, modified class or work schedules, lactation accommodations, alternative testing options, and workplace modifications. Workplace modifications include, but are not limited to, changes to work schedules, alternative work assignments, and adjustments to work location.

  • Reasonable Supportive Measures 

    Individualized services offered as appropriate and reasonably available to a person who is an Eligible Caregiver, as defined.

    Supportive measures are designed to foster and ensure equitable access to University programs or activities. Supportive measures are not regarded as reasonable if they create an undue hardship, compromise the health and safety of members of the university community, or fundamentally alter the nature of the university’s employment or educational mission.

  • Relevant Campus Employee

    An employee at the University who collaborates with an individual who makes a request under this policy and with the Office of Institutional Equity to coordinate or determine a reasonable supportive measure and/or accommodation.

  • Retaliation

    Speech or conduct that targets an individual or group because of their participation in a procedure related to this policy or other related University policies, where such conduct adversely impacts participation in a University program or activity and/or terms or conditions of employment.

Section 2: Non-Discrimination

The University is committed to providing a safe and respectful educational experience and work environment free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. This policy, including the rights identified for caregivers, shall be applied equitably in a manner that is inclusive of people  of all genders.

Section 3: Sex Discrimination

Allegations of sex discrimination, including allegations of discrimination and harassment relating to pregnancy and parenting, are governed under the Wentworth Institute of Technology Sexual Misconduct & Sex-based Discrimination Policy for Students and Employees.

Section 4: Retaliation

Wentworth prohibits retaliation against persons exercising their rights under this policy, including rights related to caregiving. Allegations of retaliation will be addressed pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Wentworth Institute of Technology Sexual Misconduct & Sex-based Discrimination Policy for Students and Employees.

Section 5: Reporting

Any person may report allegations of discrimination, including retaliation, using the online reporting form or by contacting the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator can be contacted in person, by telephone, email, or in person during regular business hours (Monday- Friday 8:15 AM to 4:45 PM):


Catlin Wells 
Executive Director of Equity and Compliance/Title IX Coordinator 
CEIS 204
wellsc1@wit.edu
(617)989-4119

 

Section 6: Reasonable Accommodations and Supportive Measures

Under the law, participants in University programs and Activities have a right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Pursuant to the University’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, this Policy recognizes supportive measures beyond what is required by law as a privilege afforded to Wentworth students and employees.

Individuals who seek an accommodation related to pregnancy or parenting or who seek supportive measures as caregivers are encouraged to contact the Executive Director of Equity and Compliance, in the Office of Institutional Equity.

Catlin Wells
Executive Director of Equity and Compliance/Title IX Coordinator
CEIS 204

wellsc1@wit.edu
(617)989-4119

Section 7: How to Request an Accommodation of Supportive Measure

While no person is required to notify the University if they are pregnant or parenting, participants who seek an accommodation or supportive measure should follow the processes outlined in this policy.

Participants in the University’s programs and activities may make a request for accommodations and/or supportive measures by contacting the Executive Director of Equity and Compliance, Catlin Wells, via email, or by filling out the online request form.

A request for an accommodation and/or supportive measure should include:

  • an explanation of why the person making the request requires an accommodation and/or supportive measure
  • a description of the requested accommodation and/or supportive measure
  • the expected duration of the accommodation and/or supportive measure (e.g., start and end dates)  

Section 8: Coordinating an Accommodation and/or Supportive Measures: Faculty and Staff

Participants seeking accommodations and/or supportive measures may notify their supervisors of their request. Upon receipt of the online form, the Executive Director of Equity and Compliance or designee will also notify the employee’s supervisor and any other relevant campus employees of the request.

In an interactive process, supervisors work together with employees to identify a reasonable accommodation and/or supportive measure.

Employee Responsibilities:

  1. Complete the online request form
  2. Notify supervisor of request (optional)
  3. If applicable, submit relevant medical documentation directly to the Executive Director of Equity and Compliance, Catlin Wells.
  4. Participate in the interactive process with The Office of Institutional Equity.

Supervisor’s Responsibilities:

  1. Meet with the employee to outline the process to request an accommodation and/or supportive measures, including providing a link to the online information
  2. Remind the employee to provide the necessary medical documentation directly to The  Office of Institutional Equity.
  3. Work with The Office on Institutional Equity in the interactive process
  4. Document each of these steps.

The individual requesting the accommodation and/or supportive measure and their supervisor will work together to review the information. The Office of Institutional Equity will determine if the party making the request is eligible for a supportive measure and/or accommodation. Eligible Caregivers and/or pregnant or parenting individuals are eligible for reasonable accommodations and supportive measures. The Office of Institutional Equity may ask for additional documentation to determine eligibility.

If the request is approved, The Office of Institutional Equity will notify in writing both the employee requesting the accommodation and the supervisor. If the notification supports the specific request submitted by the employee, the supervisor will meet with the employee to implement the agreed upon accommodation and/or supportive measure. The supervisor may consult with The Office of Institutional Equity to prepare for the conversation and request guidance in accessing other University resources. The supervisor will document the meeting with the employee.

If the specific accommodation or supportive measures requested is not implemented, the supervisor and The Office of Institutional Equity will continue the interactive process with the employee to explore possible alternative accommodations and/or supportive measures. If an alternative accommodation and/or supportive measure is reached, the supervisor will follow the steps above in the preceding paragraph including documentation of the meeting.

If it is determined that the request for accommodation and/or supportive measure is not reasonable and would create an undue hardship, The Office of Institutional Equity will inform the employee and provide an explanation as to why the accommodation and/or supportive measure cannot be provided. The Office of Institutional Equity may also request more detailed information to further assess the request.

Section 9: Coordinating an Accommodation and/or Supportive Measures: Students

Students seeking accommodations and/or supportive measures may notify a relevant campus employee (professor, student employment supervisor, coach, etc.) of their request.

Student Responsibilities:

  1. Complete the online request form

  2. Notify the relevant campus employee of request (optional)

  3. If applicable, submit relevant medical documentation directly to the Executive Director of Equity and Compliance, Catlin Wells

  4. Participate in the interactive process with The Office of Institutional Equity.

Responsibilities of the Relevant Campus Employee:

  1. Meet with the student to outline the process to request an accommodation and/or supportive measures, including providing a link to the online information.

  2. Remind the student to provide any relevant medical documentation, if applicable, directly to The Office of Institutional Equity

  3. Work with The Office on Institutional Equity in the interactive process

  4. Document each of these steps.

The individual requesting the accommodation and/or supportive measure will work together with the relevant campus employee to review the information. The Office of Institutional Equity will determine if the party making the request is eligible for the requested supportive measure and/or accommodation. Eligible Caregivers and/or pregnant or parenting individuals are eligible for reasonable accommodations and supportive measures. The Office of Institutional Equity may ask for additional documentation to determine eligibility.

If the request is approved, The Office of Institutional Equity will notify the student and the relevant campus employee in writing. If the notification supports the specific request submitted by the student, the relevant campus employee will meet with the student to implement the agreed upon accommodation and/or supportive measure. The supervisor may consult with The Office of Institutional Equity to prepare for the conversation and request guidance in accessing other University resources. The relevant campus employee will document the meeting with the student and submit the documentation to the Executive Director of Institutional Equity, Catlin Wells.

If the specific accommodation and/or supportive measure requested is not implemented, the relevant campus employee and The Office of Institutional Equity will continue the interactive process with the student to explore possible alternative accommodations and/or supportive measures. If an alternative accommodation and/or supportive measure is reached, the relevant campus employee will follow the steps above in the preceding paragraph including documentation of the meeting.

If it is determined that the request for accommodation and/or supportive measure is not reasonable and would create an undue hardship, The Office of Institutional Equity will inform the student and provide an explanation as to why the accommodation and/or supportive measure cannot be provided. The Office of Institutional Equity may also request more detailed information to further assess the request

Section 10: Appealing a Decision Relating to Accommodations and/or Supportive Measures

Students who disagree with the decision may submit an appeal letter to the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Faculty or Staff members who disagree with the decision may submit an appeal to the Vice President of Human Resources for review by the Vice President or designee.

The appeal letter must include a summary of the requested accommodation/and or supportive measure and the grounds for appeal. The Vice President serving as the appeal officer or their designee (hereinafter “Appeal Officer”) shall review the appeal and issue a decision within 10 business days.

If upon review, the Appeal Officer determines that the appeal letter does bring forth sufficient grounds for appeal, the Appeal Officer may:

  • Affirm the decision, upholding the decision;
  • Approve the requested accommodation and/or supportive measure;
  • Reinitiate the interactive process, for further consideration of the request

Section 11: Modifications to Accommodations

Individuals may request modifications to accommodations, as necessary. Requests must be submitted in writing to the Executive Director of Equity and Compliance.

Section 12: Lactation on Campus

A breastfeeding parent may, at their discretion, express breast milk or breastfeed, as necessary. While individuals are not prohibited from breastfeeding in public spaces, the University will provide a room or other location where the parent can breastfeed or express milk in private.

  • Access to Lactation Rooms

    Lactation rooms may remain locked to ensure their availability for parents who are breastfeeding. To gain access to lactation rooms, contact the Office of Institutional Equity.

  • Locating Lactation Rooms

    Designated lactation rooms are available throughout campus, in each of the following locations:

    • Beatty Hall: The lactation room in Beatty Hall is located next to room 313, near the exit sign.
    • CEIS: The lactation room in CEIS is located next to room 315, near the group study lounge.
    • Wentworth Hall: The lactation room in Wentworth Hall is next to classroom 305.

Section 13: Academic Considerations for Pregnant and Parenting Students

  • Absences

    While the University will not assume that a pregnant student cannot attend school or participate in school activities, absences due to pregnancy or childbirth shall be excused for as long as is deemed medically necessary by the student’s doctor.

    Where possible, a student should make an accommodation request for an excused absence in advance of the missed class. Students may make up work they missed while out due to pregnancy or any related conditions, including recovery from childbirth. If a professor awards “points” for class attendance, students must be given the opportunity to earn back the credit from classes missed because of pregnancy.

  • Class Attendance

    Pregnant and/or parenting students will not be prevented from attending class on the basis of pregnancy. Pregnant or parenting students may continue participating in activities and programs outside of class such as sporting, extracurricular activities, labs and career rotations.

  • Scholarships

    The University will not terminate or reduce athletic, merit or need-based scholarships because of pregnancy or parenting.

Resources for Pregnant and Parenting Employees

The University has numerous policies in place for the purpose of supporting pregnant and parenting employees as well as caregivers. Information relating to rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Small Necessities Leave Act, the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act, and the Massachusetts’s Sick Leave Law are located in the employee handbook.

Information relating to the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act is available in the MA PFML Employee Guide.

Policy Information

Policy Category:  

Effective Date: 08/01/2021 

Responsible Executive: Nicole Price  

Last Reviewed: N/A Newly Created 

Responsible Unit: Office of Institutional Equity  

Last Revised: N/A Newly Created