Interested in a demo of our CareGLP platform to deliver GLP-1s at scale?
Request Demo Here!
The New Normal For Pregnant Workers

The New Normal For Pregnant Workers

September 6, 2023
Post by
Justin Lobdell

What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

In a significant move towards workplace fairness and equality, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This groundbreaking act aims to protect pregnant workers and ensure that they receive reasonable accommodations when needed. Here, we'll delve into what the PWFA entails, when it goes into effect, and what it means for both employers and employees.

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

The PWFA, short for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, is a new federal law designed to guarantee pregnant workers reasonable accommodations for their known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. These accommodations are mandated unless providing them would cause the employer an "undue hardship." It's important to note that the PWFA specifically addresses accommodations and does not replace existing laws enforced by the EEOC that prohibit pregnancy-based discrimination, such as firing employees due to pregnancy or related conditions.

The Act also respects state and local laws that may offer even greater protections for pregnant workers. Over 30 states and cities across the U.S. already have laws in place that provide various accommodations for pregnant employees.

When Does the PWFA Go into Effect, and Will the Public Have Input?

The PWFA will go into effect on June 27, 2023. To ensure transparency and public participation, the EEOC is mandated to issue regulations to implement the law. Before these regulations become final, the EEOC will release a proposed version for public input and comments.

Is the EEOC Accepting Charges Under the PWFA?

Starting from June 27, 2023, the EEOC will begin accepting charges under the PWFA, provided the situation in question occurred on or after that date. If a pregnant worker requires accommodation before June 27th, they may still be entitled to it under other federal or state laws.

Until the PWFA is fully in effect, the EEOC will continue to accept and process charges related to a lack of accommodation regarding pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Who Does the PWFA Protect?

The PWFA extends its protection to employees and job applicants of "covered employers," which include private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations. If you fall into any of these categories and have known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, the PWFA safeguards your right to reasonable accommodations.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers

"Reasonable accommodations" under the PWFA encompass changes to the work environment or standard work practices. To provide a clearer picture of what this means, the House Committee on Education and Labor Report on the PWFA offers several examples of potential reasonable accommodations. These include:

  1. Allowing the employee to sit or have access to drinking water.
  2. Providing closer parking options.
  3. Offering flexible work hours.
  4. Supplying appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel.
  5. Granting additional break time for bathroom use, eating, and resting.
  6. Authorizing leave or time off to recover from childbirth.
  7. Excusing the employee from strenuous activities or tasks involving unsafe compounds during pregnancy.

Employers are obligated to provide these reasonable accommodations unless they can demonstrate that doing so would result in an "undue hardship" on their operations, signifying significant difficulty or expense.

What Else Does the PWFA Prohibit?

The PWFA introduces a set of prohibitions to ensure the fair treatment of pregnant workers. Covered employers cannot:

  1. Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the worker and the employer.
  2. Deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on their need for a reasonable accommodation.
  3. Mandate leave if another reasonable accommodation can enable the employee to continue working.
  4. Retaliate against individuals for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in PWFA proceedings, such as investigations.
  5. Interfere with any individual's rights under the PWFA.

Other Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Workers

In addition to the PWFA, several other federal laws protect workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions:

  1. Title VII (enforced by the EEOC) prohibits pregnancy-based discrimination and mandates equal treatment for pregnant workers compared to others with similar abilities or disabilities.
  2. The ADA (enforced by the EEOC) protects employees from disability-based discrimination and requires reasonable accommodations when feasible.
  3. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor) provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons.
  4. The PUMP Act (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act) (enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor) expands workplace protections for nursing mothers, allowing them to express breast milk at work.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act marks a significant step forward in safeguarding the rights of pregnant employees and applicants. With its emphasis on reasonable accommodations and the prevention of discrimination, this law seeks to create a more equitable workplace environment for all. As it goes into effect, both employers and employees should familiarize themselves with its provisions to ensure a fair and respectful work environment for all. Additionally, keep an eye out for the upcoming regulations to gain a deeper understanding of how the PWFA will be implemented in practice.

Citation: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Simplify the ADA & Job accommodations process for your HR Teams

We would love an introduction!