The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) goes in effect this Tuesday, June 27, 2023. The PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the PWFA uses the same definition of reasonable accommodation and does not require that employers provide accommodations that cause an undue hardship. Like with the ADA, covered employers must participate in the interactive process if they receive an accommodation request from a pregnant worker. The PWFA also contains prohibitions. Employers may not do the following:
- Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the worker and the employer;
- 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 another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would allow the employee to continue working;
- Retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in an PWFA proceeding; or
- Interfere with any individual’s rights under the PWFA.
To recover for a violation of the PWFA, an employee must first exhaust administrative remedies by filing a charge with the EEOC. The EEOC will start accepting charges under the PWFA on Tuesday, June 27. For the PWFA to apply, the situation complained about in the charge must have happened on June 27 or later (although employees can still pursue charges based on Title VII and/or ADA).
Next Steps for Employers:
- Remove your old EEOC “Know Your Rights” posters and replace them with the updated version available here.
- Review your employee handbook and revise accommodations policies to include reasonable accommodations for workers who have known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- Train managers to recognize situations in which the PWFA applies and consider what reasonable accommodations may be available in the workplace.