There are many employment laws that can affect your business. Most employers are aware of the federal laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment against employees. Under federal and Texas state law, for example, employees cannot face discrimination or harassment based on protected classes, such as pregnancy.
Federal law is about ready to take things a step further. On December 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This law, which goes into effect on June 27, applies to accommodations only. It is still illegal to fire pregnant workers or discriminate against them solely based on their pregnancy status. The law also does not replace any local, state, or federal laws that are more protective of pregnant workers. The law is in place to ensure that all pregnant workers in the United States have some sort of protection.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was signed into law to provide pregnant and postpartum workers with accommodations to help them avoid health complications so they can continue working. Existing laws did not allow for these protections. Instead, workers had to have a disability or prove discrimination.
What Does the Law Do?
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers who have experienced limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The employer does not have to accommodate the employee if it will cause the employer to suffer an undue hardship.
A covered employer includes any private or public sector employers with at least 15 employees. Congress, federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations are also considered covered employers.
Covered employers cannot:
- Require an employee to accept an accommodation without discussing it with the employee first.
- Deny a job or other employment opportunities to a pregnant worker based on their need for reasonable accommodation.
- Require an employee to take leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow the employee to keep working.
- Interfere with a worker’s rights under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
A reasonable accommodation is something that does not result in a lot of time or expense for the employer. Some examples of reasonable accommodations for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act include allowing a pregnant worker to:
- Sit or drink water when needed.
- Work flexible hours.
- Work remotely.
- Receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest.
- Be allowed to park in a closer parking area.
- Receive appropriate uniforms and safety apparel.
- Be excused from strenuous activities.
- Avoid activities that involve exposure to unsafe compounds that could affect the pregnancy.
- Take time off to recover from childbirth.
In addition, new mothers have protections under the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act). This law was signed into law on December 29, 2022. The law allows nursing employees to receive break time to pump breast milk for their newborn child. It also allows them a private place to pump at work (not a bathroom) that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers as well as the public.
Why is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Important?
Statistics gathered through research on pregnancy and employment fueled the creation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. It is estimated that 72% of women will become pregnant while employed at some point in their lives. More than 20% of pregnant workers have thought of leaving their job due to a lack of accommodations. Also, 80% of those pregnant for the first time work until their final month of pregnancy.
Based on these statistics, employers can do their part to accommodate pregnant workers so they can work longer. While some pregnant workers may have difficult pregnancies, they do not have disabilities that allow them to take time off under federal law. That is what makes the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act so important.
Contact Our Frisco Employment Law Attorneys Today
As employers, you have a lot on your plate, like running your businesses while also staying informed on state and federal laws that could affect your employees and business operations. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is an example of this.
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. If you are not sure what laws affect your pregnant workers, seek legal advice from the Frisco employment lawyers at Simon | Paschal PLLC. We will help you stay compliant and ensure all employees are treated fairly in accordance with the law. Schedule a consultation today by calling (972) 893-9340.