The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA): What Employers Need to Know

A new federal law, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), became effective on June 27, 2023. PWFA adds to existing protections for pregnant workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the PWFA, employers with fifteen or more qualified employees in both the public and private sectors must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with known limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, so long as those accommodations pose no undue hardship to the employer. “Undue hardship” and “reasonable accommodation” have the same definitions under the PWFA as the ADA.

Furthermore, employers may not deny employment opportunities to or take actions against covered employees based on their need for reasonable accommodations. Likewise, employers may not force covered employees to take paid or unpaid leave when reasonable accommodations are available that would allow them to work. Any retaliation against employees for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a proceeding under the PWFA is prohibited.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include providing employees with additional breaks to rest, eat, or use the bathroom or allowing employees the ability to sit or drink water. Reasonable accommodations include excusing employees from performing overly strenuous work, allowing them time off to recover from childbirth, offering flexible hours, or providing closer parking spaces.

Finally, although employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations under these circumstances, they are not necessarily entitled to choose those reasonable accommodations. The PWFA provides a defense for employers who work in good faith with employees to identify alternative reasonable accommodations that are equally effective to those the employee suggests and do not cause undue hardship.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will issue regulations to implement the PWFA within one year.

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.


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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

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