What Do Employers Needs to Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

Posted July 24, 2023

  • What Do Employers Needs to Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

Following enactment by President Biden, on June 27, 2023, the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) became effective. The PWFA enhances the accommodation protections for pregnant and postpartum workers and applicants in the workplace. The PWFA provides an affirmative right to qualified individuals to receive reasonable accommodations for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions absent an undue hardship to the employer. Prior to the enactment of the PWFA, pregnant and postpartum employees and applicants were limited in their abilities to receive such reasonable accommodations.

The PWFA applies to private and public sector employers with 15 or more employees. The PWFA protects qualified individuals who have a “physical or mental condition related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” and who have informed their employer of such physical or mental condition. PWFA protections apply to qualified individuals where (1) the individual’s inability to perform the essential job functions of the position is temporary; (2) the individual can perform the essential job functions in the near future; (3) and with a reasonable accommodation, the individual will be able to perform the essential job functions.

Moving forward under the PWFA, following the request for a reasonable accommodation, private and public employers are required to engage in the “interactive process” with qualified employees and applicants to determine if the individual requesting a reasonable accommodation needs the accommodation and to determine whether the employer can provide an accommodation without causing “undue hardship” to itself. If the requested reasonable accommodation would not cause an undue hardship to the employer, the employer is required to provide reasonable accommodation to the qualified individual.

Importantly for employers, the PWFA only applies to requests for reasonable accommodations and does not apply to an employee’s claims of discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PWFA does not replace Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act, or any other state or federal law.

As covered employers and employees move through the PWFA accommodation requirements, the attorneys at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor can assist in all aspects of preparing for and enforcing compliance under the law.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact me.

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