For a long time, there was a gray area under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and relevant case law when it came to accommodating pregnancy in the workplace. Under the current laws, discriminating against employees for being pregnant is illegal, but the current law’s protections do not extend far enough. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) bridges this gap and goes into effect on June 27, 2023. Let’s explore the key provisions of this act and its significance in promoting workplace equality and supporting pregnant workers.
The PWFA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. Examples of these accommodations include adjustments to work schedules, access to water and bathroom breaks, modified tasks, assistance with heavy lifting, and temporary transfers to less strenuous positions. The PWFA mirrors the process under the Americans with Disabilities Act for receiving accommodations. In brief, engaging in the interactive process would mean approaching your employer or putting your employer on notice of your pregnancy. Then, engaging in the interactive process by asking for accommodations and working with your employer to find a reasonable accommodation.
The PWFA also mandates that employers provide written notice detailing their protections under the act. This includes information about the right to be free from pregnancy discrimination, the right to reasonable accommodations, and avenues for reporting violations. Additionally, employers are required to maintain records related to reasonable accommodations and make them available for inspection upon request. Both private and public employers are covered as long as an employer has fifteen employees including Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations.