Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)  is a new law going into effect June 27, 2023 at the federal level for employers in the public and private sectors with 15 or more employees.

The PWFA requires employers to:

  • Engage in an interactive process with employees to evaluate reasonable accommodations;
  • Explicitly extend protections to “qualified employees” who cannot perform an essential function of their job if the inability to perform the function is for a “temporary period” and they can resume it in the “near future” and can be reasonably accommodated;
    • The EEOC will be issuing additional regulations around “near future” and “temporary period”
  • Follow expanded definition of “known limitation” under PWFA, to include physical and mental limitations “related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy or childbirth or related medical conditions”.

PWFA prohibits employers from:

  • Denying a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified applicant or employee based on their need for reasonable accommodation(s);
  • Requiring an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would allow the employee to continue working;
  • Retaliating against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the PWFA or participating in a PWFA proceeding (such as an investigation); or
  • Interfering with any individual’s rights under the PWFA.

Employers should take this time to review their handbooks and ensure it is compliant with the new law.