What Employers Need to Know About the PWFA

Posted by HLL Admin

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) became law on December 29, 2022, ushering in a new standard for pregnant employees in the workplace. This act, effective as of June 27, 2023, requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PWFA goes further than pre-existing federal laws and seeks to establish an affirmative right to reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers.

Understanding the PWFA

Under the PWFA, employers are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations unless they can demonstrate undue hardship. This applies to known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It’s important to note that the PWFA extends protections to employees with temporary disabilities related to pregnancy, as long as these limitations can be reasonably accommodated.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include allowing employees to sit, providing access to drinking water, offering flexible work hours, adjusting uniforms for comfort, granting additional break time for bathroom use, eating, and resting, and excusing employees from strenuous or unsafe tasks during pregnancy.

Prohibited Employer Actions

Under the PWFA, employers are prohibited from taking the following actions:

  • Require an employee to accept an accommodation without discussion.
  • Deny job opportunities based on the need for accommodation.
  • Force employees to take leave when alternative accommodations are available.
  • Retaliation against individuals who report discrimination under the PWFA.
  • Interfere with employees’ rights under the PWFA.

Learn more about the PWFA here.

Resources for guidance are available.

Employment law is complex, and professional legal guidance is a key part of any compliance strategy. When leaders and managers understand what changes are needed to comply with a new law, they safeguard their organization from legitimate and illegitimate discrimination claims.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance and educational resources to help employers understand and comply with the PWFA. The guidance clarifies the scope of charges, examples of reasonable accommodations, and actions prohibited by employers. 

The EEOC’s Proposed Rule:

On August 11, 2023, the EEOC published a Proposed Rule to implement the PWFA. This rule provides further insights into how the EEOC interprets the law. Key takeaways from the Proposed Rule include definitions of “qualified” individuals, covered conditions, and guidance on requesting reasonable accommodations.

Rely on Employment Law Experts to Protect Your Business

As the PWFA brings substantial changes to workplace accommodations for pregnant employees, it’s crucial for employers to understand and adhere to these new requirements. Reviewing and updating reasonable accommodation policies, training personnel, and staying informed about applicable laws are essential steps for compliance. 

If you have any questions or need assistance with employment law matters related to the PWFA, don’t hesitate to contact Hughes Lawyers, LLC. Our team of experts is here to provide guidance and representation in this evolving legal landscape. Tell us about your case.

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