If you missed The Employer Handbook Zoom Office Hour on Friday, head on over to The Employer Handbook YouTube Channel — be sure to subscribe while you are there — and check out the replay. Among the topics that Robin Shea and I discussed was the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Does the PWFA sound familiar to you? It should; I’ve talked about it here before.
Last week, the House reintroduced the PWFA with bipartisan support. It seems inevitable this time around that the PWFA will become law. So, here’s what you need to know:
- Private-sector employers with more than 15 employees and public sector employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers (employees and job applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions).
- Like the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers need not accommodate if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.
- Employers cannot deny pregnant workers employment opportunities, retaliate against them for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or force them to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation is available.
- Workers denied a reasonable accommodation under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will have the same rights and remedies as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These include lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will provide examples of reasonable accommodations that the employer must provide to affected job applicants or employees unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship.
If you want more information on the PWFA, here is a fact sheet.
Perhaps your business operates in a state or city that already has a pregnancy accommodation law, which suggests that you would already have a pregnancy accommodation policy in your employee handbook.
Businesses that operate elsewhere must still adhere to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Young v. UPS. The Cout held that, when accommodating pregnant workers, employers may treat them no less favorably than non-pregnant workers with similar inabilities to work. That’s a wonky standard that the PWFA will clarify.
For now, make sure that you have a pregnancy accommodation policy, probably one that looks a lot like your disability accommodation policy.