Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

by | Feb 16, 2023 | HR Legislation

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act that will become law on June 27, 2023. This ensures that anyone pregnant has reasonable accommodations without judgment from their employer, similar to those in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). [1] Some accommodations include more restroom breaks, reduced lifting requirements, providing medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and even different office equipment or a work-from-home option. [2]

Specifically, the law provides:

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for a covered entity to–

(1) not make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee, unless such covered entity can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of such covered entity;

(2) require a qualified employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to accept an accommodation other than any reasonable accommodation arrived at through the interactive process . . . . ;

(3) deny employment opportunities to a qualified employee if such denial is based on the need of the covered entity to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the qualified employee;

(4) require a qualified employee to take leave, whether paid or unpaid, if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the qualified employee; or

(5) take adverse action in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against a qualified employee on account of the employee requesting or using a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the employee.” [1] 

This act also prohibits (for those protected):

  • Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the worker and the employer;
  • Deny a job or other employment opportunities 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 (such as an investigation); or
  • Interfere with any individual’s rights under the PWFA. [3] 

The Pump Act and the Medical Leave Act of 1993 will also continue to be enforced during this time.