You may recall that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act and we blogged about the coming changes here. Given that the effective date is June 27, we’re back with an update highlighting some of the key points from the EEOC’s article titled “What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” as well as some practical tips to get you ready.
What the EEOC Said About the PWFA
Based on the EEOC’s article regarding the PWFA, here are a few things the EEOC thinks are important for you to know:
- Employees can file charges of discrimination beginning June 27, 2023, for events occurring on or after June 27
- PWFA applies only to reasonable accommodations
- Proposed ideas for “reasonable accommodations”:
- Breaks (or additional breaks) for sitting, resting, or drinking water
- Flexible hours
- Closer parking
- Appropriately sized uniforms
- Leave to recover after birth
- Lifting restrictions or excusing employees from strenuous activities or risky exposure to compounds
- Employers cannot:
- Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a prior discussion
- Deny a qualified employee a job or employment opportunities because of the need for accommodation
- Require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation is available
- Retaliate against anyone for reporting discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA investigation
The EEOC has not issued proposed regulations and it isn’t clear when it will do so, but we’ll be on the lookout to alert you once those are proposed.
What You Should Do to Prepare
Here’s what we propose you do before the PWFA goes into effect:
- Revisit your policies and identify appropriate contacts or processes for (1) requesting accommodations and (2) reporting concerns.
- Remind your supervisors about the basics of accommodations and their obligations to pregnant workers.
- While you’re at it, review your job descriptions and update them to reflect the actual position duties (as the essential functions will be important in any discussion about reasonable accommodations).
Remember, although the PWFA applies only to accommodations, other laws such as Title VII, the ADA, the PUMP Act, and the FMLA have protections that may be available to pregnant employees. As always, call your employment lawyers with any questions.