Employers and employees alike can benefit from staying informed about recent labor laws and workplace regulations developments. One such critical piece of legislation is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).
This law significantly impacts the rights and protections of pregnant workers in the United States. Below is an introduction to the PWFA’s implications, provisions and how it may affect employers and pregnant employees going forward.
What is the PWFA?
The PWFA is a federal law aimed at preventing discrimination against pregnant employees and helping to ensure that they receive reasonable workplace accommodations. President Joe Biden signed this legislation into law on December 29, 2022, and the EEOC began accepting complaints filed in response to noncompliance on June 27, 2023.
One of the central aspects of the PWFA is the mandate for employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and those affected by pregnancy-related conditions. This may include adjustments to work schedules, seating, lifting restrictions or other modifications that allow pregnant individuals to perform their job duties without jeopardizing their health or the health of their pregnancy.
Additionally, under the PWFA, it is against the law for employers to discriminate against pregnant employees in any aspect of employment. This provision helps ensure pregnant workers have the same rights and opportunities as their non-pregnant counterparts.
Who is covered by the PWFA?
The PWFA applies to all employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local government entities. This broad coverage helps ensure that a significant portion of the workforce is protected under this law.
The PWFA provides pregnant workers with essential protections and accommodations. Pregnant employees can now more boldly request reasonable adjustments to their work conditions without fear of retaliation or discrimination. This empowers pregnant individuals to prioritize their health and the well-being of their pregnancies even more confidently than they did when preexisting legal protections were in place that prevented sex discrimination and disability discrimination more broadly.
To comply with the PWFA, employers must educate their management and staff about the provisions of the PWFA to help ensure that all employees are aware of their rights and responsibilities. Companies should also have clear and comprehensive policies regarding pregnancy discrimination and reasonable accommodations.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a significant milestone in protecting the rights of pregnant employees in the United States. As more employers and employees are aware of their rights and obligations under the Act, discrimination related to pregnancy should hopefully become a less frequent feature of the American workplace.