The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), signed into law last December went into effect on June 27, 2023. Pursuant to the PWFA, employers with 15 or more employees must grant a “reasonable accommodation” for an employee’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the employer can show that the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”
While the full scope of what a “reasonable accommodation” can include has not been defined, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notes that it could include the ability to sit during a work shift; drink water at the workstation; receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat and rest; take leave or time off for medical appointments or to recover from childbirth; and be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds that are not safe for a pregnant woman. Unlike a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer could be required to eliminate an essential function of the employee’s job temporarily.
The PWFA also prohibits covered employers from:
- Requiring an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the employee and the employer.
- Denying a job or other employment opportunity to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for a reasonable accommodation.
- Requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would allow the employee to continue working.
- Retaliating against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a proceeding relating to the PWFA.
- Otherwise interfering with any individual’s rights under the PWFA.
Complaints that an employer has violated the PWFA will be received and processed by the EEOC. A violation will carry the same penalties as a violation of the ADA.
If you have any questions regarding how the PWFA applies to your business, or if you have any questions regarding the requirements of the PWFA, please contact Nancy Abrams at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer Chalal at email@example.com.