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Thursday, August 17, 2023

EEOC Issues New Rules for Pregnant Workers

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is now in effect, as of June 27, 2023. It applies to most employers with 15 or more employees. It requires employers to grant reasonable accommodations to employees with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

EEOC has provided details on what is required:

Covered employers cannot: 
  • Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the worker and the employer;
  • Deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person's need for a reasonable accommodation;
  • Require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working;
  • Retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA proceeding (such as an investigation); or
  • Interfere with any individual’s rights under the PWFA.

They provide examples of what may constitute reasonable accommodations:

  • the ability to sit or drink water; 
  • receive closer parking; 
  • have flexible hours; 
  • receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; 
  • receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest; 
  • take leave or time off to recover from childbirth; and 
  • be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy.  
EEOC states: "Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless they would cause an “undue hardship” on the employer’s operations. An “undue hardship” is significant difficulty or expense for the employer." This is the same as the standard for reasonable accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

While employers were required to provide some accommodations before this law, the standards were much more lax and gave employers more leeway. This new law makes clear that employers must grant reasonable accommodations to pregnant, nursing, new moms, people recovering from miscarriages, people with post-partum depression, and other pregnancy-related and post-pregnancy-related conditions.

This new is in addition to Title VII, the Americans With Disabilties Act, PUMP Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and any state and local laws that may apply.

If your employer has denied you a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-related condition, contact an employee-side employment lawyer in your state about your rights.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.