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The New Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: What Employers Need to Know

September 28, 2023 Employment law

On June 27, 2023, The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect. The PWFA provides insight into what employers can and cannot do regarding their pregnant employees after years of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) providing only patchwork protection and guidance. The EEOC is now also accepting charges under the PWFA.

Any employee or applicant with a known limitation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is protected by the PWFA. Any employer, either in the public or private sector, with at least fifteen employees is covered by the PWFA.

Under the PWFA, covered employers cannot discriminate against pregnant employees in hiring, firing, or any employment decision that could be an adverse action. Employers similarly cannot retaliate against employees for engaging in any statutorily protected activity under the PWFA.

Covered employers must also reasonably accommodate pregnant employees to allow the employee to protect their own health and the health of their unborn child. These accommodations could look like modifying physically strenuous tasks, allowing for schedule flexibility, more frequent restroom visits, or telework. Pregnant employees are not, however, entitled to any accommodation they would like. If an accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the employer, then the employer does not violate the PWFA by denying that request. When determining if a request poses an undue hardship, employers should consider factors such as the size of their workforce, the expense of an accommodation, or the impact on operations due to the accommodation. Like with the ADA, it is important to engage in the interactive process with employees requesting accommodations under the PWFA.

A diligent employer complying with Title VII and the ADA is likely already complying with the PWFA. If you have any questions regarding your rights or responsibilities under the PWFA, please reach out to any Stembridge Taylor attorney. We would be happy to guide you through this policy change.

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