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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2023: What Employees Should Know

Published March 19, 2024 by Employment and Commerce Law Group
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act 2023: What Employees Should Know

Statistics show that 80 percent of working women have a child during their lifetime. Pregnancy comes with immeasurable rewards but also health risks. Until recently, certain employment laws failed to protect working mothers sufficiently. The new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PFWA) fills in the gaps.  

How Have Pregnancy Employment Laws Changed?

The PWFA expands protections afforded to pregnant workers through existing laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA). The PDA prohibits workplace discrimination against women and job applicants who are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related health condition. The law applies to hiring and firing, benefits, working conditions, maternity leave, temporary disability, and health insurance.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers with certain health conditions related to pregnancy, but only if it qualifies as a disability.  

The PWFA closes this loophole. The provisions from the PDA and ADA still apply, but the PWFA mandates employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers when there is a “known limitation” that prevents them from temporarily performing a job function. Examples include morning sickness, high blood pressure, and other pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations?

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Under the act, qualified employers might provide reasonable accommodations like:

  • More frequent bathroom breaks
  • Seats for jobs that normally require standing (like cashiers)
  • Closer parking spaces
  • Additional water or meal breaks
  • Light-duty work
  • Appropriately sized uniforms

The exception to the PWFA would be if reasonable accommodations caused “undue hardship” to the employer, such as significant expenses or difficulty that disrupts business operations.  

Your Rights As A Pregnant Employee

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), covered employers cannot:

  • Require you to accept an accommodation without a conversation first
  • Deny you an employment opportunity based on the need for a reasonable accommodation
  • Require you to take paid or unpaid leave if an accommodation could keep you working
  • Take adverse action against you for a fair request
  • Retaliate against you for initiating a PWFA investigation

If you believe your employer violated the PWFA or engaged in pregnancy discrimination, consult an experienced employment law lawyer. PWFA complaints only apply to actions that occurred after June 27, 2023, when the law went into effect. However, an attorney can advise whether you are a qualified employee and whether any other workplace discrimination laws apply to your case.

Get Help From a Nashville Employment Law Lawyer

Not sure whether you experienced discrimination due to pregnancy or a recent childbirth? A Tennessee employment attorney at the Employment and Commerce Law Group can investigate your case and determine your rights.

We know the idea of taking on your employer is scary. All of us work to make a living. However, you deserve a fair workplace without discrimination or fear of reprisals. Let our hard-hitting law firm take your case and make your voice heard. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.  

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