About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
The obligation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) to provide reasonable
accommodations for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions was effective as of June 27, 2023. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is now accepting PWFA charges. Charges submitted to the EEOC must be based on events that occurred on or after June 27.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, already prohibited pregnancy discrimination. The PDA requires covered employers to treat employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions the same as other similarly situated employees.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with certain conditions related to pregnancy that qualify as a disability—for example, gestational diabetes—though many other common pregnancy-related conditions are not covered.
The PWFA applies to employers with 15 or more employees, unless the accommodation would cause the employer an undue hardship.
The PWFA's accommodation provisions are based on the ADA's, but under the PWFA, an employer may temporarily have to eliminate an essential job function. That's not the case under the ADA.
Reasonable Accommodations Under the PWFA
Reasonable accommodations might include assigning light duty, permitting more frequent bathroom breaks or allowing pregnant workers to drink water at their workstations.
Other accommodations under the PWFA might include:
The ability to sit at a workstation.
Appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel.
Additional break time to use the bathroom, eat and rest.
Leave to recover from childbirth.
Reassignment from activities that are strenuous or involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy.