The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was signed into law in December 2022 and officially took effect on June 25, 2023. The PWFA will significantly expand pregnant women’s rights in the workplace beyond what is provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Continue reading to learn more about the PWFA and how an experienced New York pregnancy discrimination lawyer at Bell Law Group can help you better understand your rights.
What provisions are included in the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act may allow a pregnant worker to have a private cause of action against an employer who takes adverse action against them for seeking reasonable accommodations. This is also applicable if an employer denies a pregnant worker an employment opportunity based on having to provide such reasonable accommodations.
This is because, according to the PWFA, an employer may be required to provide reasonable accommodations to a pregnant worker who cannot perform essential functions of their job, as long as the following circumstances apply:
- A pregnant worker’s inability to perform the essential functions of their job is temporary.
- A pregnant worker’s inability to perform the essential functions of their job can be performed in the near future.
- A pregnant worker’s inability to perform the essential functions of their job can be reasonably accommodated.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, some examples of reasonable accommodations are as follows:
- Additional break time to sit or drink water
- Flexible hours
- Closer parking to the workplace
- Appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel
With all that being said, this Act has established a new way for pregnant workers to request reasonable accommodations that were not previously covered by the ADA, PDA, or even the FMLA. For example, the PDA only required an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker whose pregnancy or childbirth conditions were considered disabilities and ultimately protected under the ADA.
How does this Act protect me?
Of note, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act may apply to private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, along with Congress, federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations. So, if you work in one of the workplaces, and if you are being denied reasonable accommodations during your pregnancy, then you may be eligible to seek legal recourse under this Act.
What should employers do to protect themselves?
Employers should review their company handbooks, as well as current policies and procedures regarding requests for reasonable accommodations and paid break time, in order to ensure they are fully complying with these new regulations. If you have questions or concerns about how these acts may affect your business, please reach out to Bell Law Group, PLLC.