On June 27, 2023, a new federal law expanding the rights of pregnant (and postpartum) workers went into effect nationally. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) provides several new rights and protections for pregnant workers and imposes new obligations on employers. The Act applies only to accommodations, and does not replace federal, state, or local laws that provide greater protections to workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
The PWFA applies only to “covered employers” which is defined as private and public sector employers with at least 15 employees, Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations. The Act requires such employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
“Reasonable accommodations” are changes to the work environment or the way things are usually done at work. Some examples of reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers include:
- 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; and
- 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.
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.
New Jersey employers are governed by a host of complex anti-discrimination laws, and it can be difficult to understand what you are obligated to do. Whether you are a New Jersey employer or a pregnant worker, Hagner & Zohlman, LLC can help you understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to reasonable accommodations. Hagner & Zohlman, LLC represents clients on both sides of this issue. If you are a business being sued by an employee, or you are a worker whose rights have been violated, contact us for help.