By: Mark Cameron
On December 29, 2022, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was signed into law by President Biden. The law will take effect tomorrow, on June 27, 2023. The law is designed to give pregnant workers with additional workplace protections by requiring covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. A “covered employer” is an employer with 15 or more employees.
Similar to the ADA, an employer must engage in the interactive process with the employee to determine what, if any, accommodations are needed. If the reasonable accommodation would result in undue hardship to the employer, then no accommodation is required. The EEOC answers some of the big questions surrounding the PWFA here: “What you Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-pregnant-workers-fairness-act#q4
Employees will be able to file charges with the EEOC starting June 27, 2023, for violative conduct that occurs on or after June 27, 2023.
It's important to remember that the PWFA is not the only law that applies to protect pregnant workers. Title VII’s anti-discrimination provisions prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Additionally, the ADA prohibits discrimination against and requires reasonable accommodation for pregnant workers with medical conditions that qualify as a disability. In contrast to the ADA, the PWFA does not require that the worker suffer from a qualifying disability related to pregnancy.
According to the EEOC, 72% of working women will become pregnant while employed, 8 in 10 first-time pregnant women work until the final month of pregnancy, and at least 23% of women have considered leaving a job due to a lack of accommodation or fear of discrimination during pregnancy. The PWFA attempts to ameliorate the impact that pregnancy has on women in the workforce.
From the employer’s perspective, engaging with pregnant employees to identify workable accommodations presents the opportunity to reduce employee turnover and the associated costs. It is also likely to increase employee satisfaction and quality of life. While the law may pose logistical challenges for some employers, it should ultimately improve the quality and longevity of most employer’s workforce.
For more information on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act contact Labor & Employment Attorney Mark Cameron: click to view bio
Disclaimer: The information included here is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for legal advice nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. For more information or if you have further questions, please contact one of our Attorneys.