New Federal Law (PWFA) Requires Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers
By Allyson S. Krueger, Partner, and Samantha M. Cho, Summer Associate
In December 2022, Congress passed new legislation that expands federal protections for pregnant workers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires private and public sector employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. The PWFA (effective June 27, 2023) applies nationally, but does not replace federal, state, or local laws that are more protective of employees.
In addition to providing reasonable accommodation(s), under the PWFA, covered employers may not:
- Require qualified employee(s) to accept unreasonable accommodations.
- Deny employment opportunities based on known limitations to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
- Require qualified employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation can be provided.
- Take adverse action in terms, conditions, and privileges of employment against a qualified employee.
Current Oregon and Washington laws contain similar protections for workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, so the PWFA will have minimal impact on employers in these states. Oregon law applies to employers with six or more employees, while Washington law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Reasonable accommodations under both states’ current laws include, but are not limited to: reasonable rest periods, a temporary change in job duties, and reasonable accommodations to express breast milk.
For more information regarding this topic, or any employment-related legal issues, please contact a member of Dunn Carney’s Employment Law Team.
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