Federal law effective June 27, 2023Read MorePregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
- We have a pregnant employee who is limited in lifting, requires frequent breaks to use the restroom, and is requesting to telework three days a week to address pregnancy-related limitations affecting their commute to work. We want to make some adjustments for this employee but are there laws that require employers to accommodate workers who are pregnant?
Several federal laws may apply to covered employers when an employee is pregnant. These laws include the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Combined, these laws:
- Prohibit employment discrimination against workers based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions;
- Require covered employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions;
- Require covered employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related disabilities; and
- Extend the right to job protected unpaid leave.
Many state laws also provide protections for workers who are pregnant.
The PWFA explicitly requires covered employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to enable them to continue working safely during their pregnancy unless it creates an undue hardship for the employer. Possible accommodations under the PWFA may include:
- Allowing telework
- Providing access to seating
- Modifying a work schedule to allow shorter hours or a later start time
- Granting additional, longer, or more frequent breaks
- Making exceptions to food and drink policies
- Providing closer parking
- Allowing leave for medical appointments or to recover from childbirth
- Providing a temporary reassignment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has not yet issued regulations to carry out the law, but the PWFA is in effect as of June 27, 2023. For more information, see the EEOC’s What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
The accommodation requirements and terms like "reasonable accommodation" and "undue hardship" in the PWFA will be familiar to covered employers preparing to comply with this new federal law because the PWFA is in many ways like the ADA. To help determine effective accommodations, employers and workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions who request accommodations can work together in an "interactive process" to come up with accommodations. A similar process used under the ADA may be applied to explore and implement effective reasonable accommodation solutions under the PWFA.
JAN can be a partner in the accommodation process by providing accommodation solutions, technical assistance, and resources to facilitate inclusion of workers who are pregnant. To help prepare employers to make PWFA accommodations, the following tips might be useful:
- Be informed: Know your responsibilities under federal and state pregnancy-related laws. Gather information and take advantage of resources that offer technical assistance, like the EEOC, Department of Labor (DOL), and JAN. Being informed about the law will better equip you to develop non-discriminatory policies and procedures. Also, update your EEO poster.
- Review and update accommodation policies and procedures: Ensure that workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions are not excluded from accommodation consideration. Update reasonable accommodation policies to include the right to reasonable accommodation for workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or associated medical conditions. This might include editing or creating a form that employees can use to request an accommodation under the PWFA, and/or a form used to collect medical information, when necessary.
- Train supervisors, managers, and human resources professionals on the various federal and state laws that apply in pregnancy-related situations. Teach them to recognize and respond to requests for accommodation and engage in the interactive accommodation process.
- Accommodation and Compliance: Pregnancy
- Accommodation and Compliance: Interactive Process
- EEOC's Pregnancy Discrimination and Pregnancy-Related Disability Discrimination
- EEOC's What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
- EEOC's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – What Employers Need to Know Webinar
- EEOC's Know Your Rights – Pregnancy Discrimination Video
- EEOC's Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues
- EEOC's Questions and Answers About the EEOC's Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues
- EEOC's Helping Patients Deal with Pregnancy-Related Limitations and Restrictions at Work
- "Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination is Illegal" Poster
- Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) Infographic
- Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) Poster
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- PUMP Act
- JAN Webcast – Accommodation and ADA Considerations: Reproductive Disorders and Pregnancy (05/12/2022)
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