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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) went into effect on June 27th, 2023.

The PWFA is administered and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. 

  • Employers may not discriminate against pregnant workers because they request or use accommodations, or because of their pregnancy itself. This includes denying them job opportunities, promotions, or other benefits, or taking any adverse action against them.
  • “Covered employers” include private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations.
  • The following could constitute “reasonable accommodations”, depending upon circumstances:
    • Providing a stool or chair for a worker who needs to sit more often;
    • Providing closer parking;
    • Allowing flexible hours and additional breaks to use the bathroom, eat, and rest;
    • Modifying lifting requirements or reassigning heavy tasks;
    • Adjusting break times or schedules to accommodate doctor’s appointments;
    • Providing lactation space and break time for breastfeeding mothers;
    • Receiving appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel;
    • Permitting leave or time off to recover from childbirth; or
    • Excusing employee from strenuous activities or activities that involve exposure to materials not safe for pregnancy.

Employers are not required to provide accommodations if the employer can demonstrate that doing so would cause an undue hardship on their business. “Undue hardship” means a significant difficulty or expense.

Covered employers may not:

  • Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation with the employee.
  • Deny a job or other employment opportunity to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for a reasonable accommodation.
  • Require an employee to take leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow the employee to continue working.
  • Retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA proceeding (such as an investigation).
  • Interfere with any individual’s rights under the PWFA.

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