If you’re a private business with at least 15 employees, you need to understand the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). This recently enacted law is designed to require reasonable accommodations for pregnant women and those who have recently given birth. A New York business law attorney can explain what this law means and defend your company if it is sued. Rosenbaum & Taylor is here to help.
The Basics About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
This federal law requires employers with at least 15 workers to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations to work limitations. These are commonly known limitations that are associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and other medical conditions. An accommodation must be provided unless doing so causes the employer an undue hardship.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) deals specifically with workplace accommodations, not employment discrimination. It also does not override other federal, state, or local laws and ordinances that provide stronger protections. The law went into effect on June 27, 2023, and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
What Are Employers Restricted From Doing Under the Law?
If you are a New York business covered by the PWFA, you cannot:
- Deny employment offers and opportunities to qualified employees or applicants based on the need for pregnancy- or childbirth-related accommodations.
- Require an employee to accept an accommodation without discussing it with that individual first.
- Force an employee to take a leave of absence if, instead, a reasonable accommodation can be granted.
- Engage in any sort of illegal retaliation against an employee who asserts their rights under the PWFA.
- Retaliate against an employee who participates in a proceeding, such as an investigation, related to this law.
- Otherwise violate the rights of anyone who is protected by the PWFA.
What Qualifies as a Reasonable Accommodation?
Reasonable accommodations are changes in the way job duties are performed that allow employees to continue doing their work. Every job is different, so what is considered to be a reasonable accommodation will vary from one workplace to another.
Some examples include:
- Allowing a pregnant employee to sit while working.
- Providing a pregnant employee with a more flexible work schedule.
- Reserving a parking spot that is close to the building for a pregnant worker.
- Giving pregnant employees appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel.
- Allowing a pregnant employee to have extended break times.
- Exempting a pregnant employee from strenuous activities or those involving exposure to substances that are harmful to the unborn child.
- Permitting leave or time off to recover from childbirth.
Accommodations must be granted, but they have to be reasonable. A business does not have to grant an employee an accommodation that imposes an undue hardship on its operations. An undue hardship may be anything that makes business operations excessively difficult or expensive. The size of the business and industry may be considered in determining the reasonableness of a requested accommodation.
Here to Protect the Rights of New York Businesses
Your organization may not yet be familiar with the PWFA, but it is the law. Failure to abide by it could expose your business to major liability. Let the New York business lawyers of Rosenbaum & Taylor advise you. We can explain the law, help your business adapt to it, and defend you in litigation. Contact our office today to learn more.