Last week, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) was reintroduced in the House with bipartisan support. In summary, it provides that:
- Private-sector employers with more than 15 employees must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers.
- Employers cannot deny pregnant workers employment opportunities, retaliate against them for requesting accommodations, or force them to take leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.
- Workers denied accommodations under the PWFA will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
- Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers need not accommodate if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.
We expect that the EEOC will provide examples of reasonable accommodations that must be provided to pregnant workers unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship.
For now, employers should take this opportunity to review and update their current Reasonable Accommodation Policy for compliance with current laws, including the ADA, and consider adding language to address pregnant employees. If you do not currently have a Reasonable Accommodation Policy in your Employee Handbook, now is a good time update your Handbook and this required policy.