The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act ("PWFA") is a new law that will take effect on June 27, 2023. The PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide temporary and reasonable accommodations to an employee’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.” Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the PWFA requires a covered employer to engage in the interactive process when determining the accommodation(s).
What constitutes a "reasonable accommodation" will vary depending on the circumstances, including the employee's job, the nature of the employer's business, the impact upon co-workers, and the employer's resources. Reasonable accommodations may include a remote-work arrangement; permission to take frequent breaks; the ability to sit or drink water; receive closer parking; receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; have flexible hours; and/or to be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy.
Also, under the PWFA, covered employers cannot:
- Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the employee and employer;
- Deny a job or other employment opportunity to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for a reasonable accommodation;
- Require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working;
- Retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA proceeding; or
- Interfere with an individuals’ rights under the PWFA.
While the PWFA applies to accommodations only, existing laws, such as Title VII, make it illegal to fire or otherwise discriminate against workers on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PWFA does not replace federal, state or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
For questions regarding this new law or any labor related matter, contact a member of Barrett McNagny's Labor and Employment team listed below.