Pregnant employees often face unfair treatment in the workplace, which has prompted Congress to enact the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This law provides a number of unique legal protections designed to make sure pregnant women enjoy reasonable accommodations on the job. The employment lawyers of Stanfield Bechtel Law work to enforce employment laws by taking action in the courts. If you’re a pregnant woman who isn’t being treated fairly at work, we can help.
What is the PWFA?
This new law requires private and public sector employers (among others) with at least 15 workers to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations to working limitations that are associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. The accommodation is required unless it will cause the employer an undue hardship.
The PWFA deals specifically with workplace accommodations. Other existing laws already address employment discrimination against pregnant workers. This law also does not override other federal, state, or local laws or ordinances which may offer stronger protections. In other words, if a state enacts a law that provides more favorable rules for pregnant women, the PWFA doesn’t cancel out or nullify it.
The law went into effect on June 27, 2023.
What are employers restricted from doing under the law?
An employer is not allowed to:
- Deny employment opportunities, including job offers, to qualified employees or applicants based on that individual’s need for a pregnancy- or childbirth-related accommodation
- Force an employee to accept an accommodation without discussing it first
- Require the worker to take a leave of absence if an accommodation can instead be granted that would permit the employee to continue working
- Retaliate (which can take many forms) against someone who asserts their rights under the PWFA or participates in a proceeding, such as an investigation, concerning the law
- Violate the rights of anyone protected by the PWFA
What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?
A reasonable accommodation is any change to the working environment or the way in which job duties are carried out that allows someone to continue doing their work. Every workplace is different, and therefore what is considered by law to be a reasonable accommodation will vary from one place to another. These are a few examples:
- Allowing an employee to sit while working
- Providing the employee with more flexible hours
- Giving the employee a parking spot that is close to the building
- Providing employees with appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel
- Allowing the employee extended break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest
- Granting leave or time off to recover from childbirth
- Excusing the employee from strenuous activities or those that involve exposure to substances or environments that are unsafe for pregnancy
The burden rests with the employer to provide accommodations to employees so they can keep working, but the key is that these accommodations have to be reasonable. An employer is not required to provide a requested accommodation if it would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business operations.
An “undue hardship” is generally defined to be something that would either make operations significantly difficult or expensive. Factors such as the size of the employer and the industry in which it operates may be considered in determining whether an accommodation is in fact reasonable.
Let Us Advocate For Your Employment Law Rights Today
Do you have questions about your rights under the PWFA or other employment laws? Would you like to know more about seeking compensation from employers who have violated those rights? Talk with Stanfield Bechtel Law to get started.