June 16, 2023

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Becomes Effective June 27, 2023

 Effective June 27, 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires employers with at least 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and job applicants with temporary physical or mental limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions. 

Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the PWFA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless they would pose an undue hardship.  The PWFA uses the framework of the interactive process to determine a reasonable accommodation.  Pursuant to the PWFA, an employer cannot require an employee to take leave, either paid or unpaid, if another reasonable accommodation can be provided. 

Importantly, the PWFA temporarily excuses pregnant workers from the essential functions of their jobs in certain circumstances as a reasonable accommodation.  Specifically, employees and applicants may be excused from performing an essential job function if: (a) the inability to perform an essential function is temporary, (b) the essential function could be performed in the near future, and (c) the inability to perform the essential function cannot be reasonably accommodated. 

Some examples of accommodations that may be required under the PWFA include the ability to sit or drink water; receive closer parking; have flexible hours; receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest; take leave or time off to recover from childbirth; and be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy.

Author:  Jim Nowogrocki

If you have any questions about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, contact one of the Summers Compton Wells attorneys in our Employment Law Practice Area.