The recently enacted Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will go into effect on June 27, 2023. This federal law applies to employers with at least 15 employees and protects employees and applicants of these employers who have “known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”
Although many employers may already be familiar with their obligations to reasonably accommodate employees who have restrictions due to their pregnancy or related conditions under other federal laws, PWFA expands existing federal laws with respect to pregnancy-related accommodation in several important aspects:
- The individual’s limitations need not rise to the level of “disability” for the employer to be required to accommodate the individual, as long as the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the employer.
- A temporary inability to perform essential functions of the individual’s job may not relieve an employer from an obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation.
- Leave of absence as a form of accommodation may only be required as the last option if no other reasonable accommodations are available.
Immediate Action Steps to Consider:
With the approaching effective date of the PWFA, covered employers may consider taking the following immediate action steps, and discuss with employment counsel regarding other courses of action necessary to ensure compliance with the law.
- Review and update the Company’s workplace accommodation policies to ensure its compliance with the PWFA.
- Ensure that employees (e.g., managers or Human Resources personnel) who receive and evaluate accommodation requests understand the nuances of the PWFA’s requirements.