On June 27, 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will go into effect, providing new protections for pregnant workers across the United States. The PWFA will require employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to workers for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless it would cause the employer an undue hardship.
Pregnancy discrimination is already unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with certain conditions related to pregnancy that qualify as disabilities. Now, the PWFA expands those protections to cover any known limitation that pregnancy creates.
Under the PWFA, employers are prohibited from:
(1) requiring employees to accept an accommodation other than a reasonable accommodation arrived at through an interactive process;
(2) denying employment opportunities to covered employees based on the need to make reasonable accommodations;
(3) requiring covered employees to take leave, whether paid or unpaid, if another reasonable accommodation can be provided;
(4) taking adverse action in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against covered employees requesting reasonable accommodations; and
(5) retaliating against employees for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA.
But what exactly is a reasonable accommodation?
It is a modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that enables an employee with a disability or limitation an equal opportunity to successfully perform a job. The PWFA directs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to issue regulations to carry out these provisions that include examples of reasonable accommodations.
The PWFA also defines the types of conditions that qualify for protection more broadly than that of a disability under the ADA. Physical and mental conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth are covered. The EEOC will accept charges under the PWFA beginning on June 27, 2023. The situation complained about in the charge must have happened on June 27, 2023, or later.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act represents an important step forward in protecting the rights of pregnant workers in the United States. By requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, the law aims to ensure that pregnant workers can continue to work and provide for themselves and their families without fear of discrimination or retaliation.
If you believe your rights under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act have been violated, please contact a Levy Ratner attorney here.