Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was recently signed into law and became effective on June 27, 2023. The new federal law protects the rights of qualified, pregnant employees by allowing that employee to request workplace accommodations when experiencing known limitations that result from pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. These conditions are essentially equivalent to a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Like ADA, the PWFA requires the university to engage in an interactive process to identify reasonable accommodations. Under the PWFA, reasonable accommodations are intended to enable an employee to remain working during their pregnancy and be allowed to lactate during the workday for up to a year after childbirth.
It is also important to note that unlike the ADA, a disability is not required for reasonable accommodations under the PWFA. The PWFA requires only that there be a known limitation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.
Requests for accommodations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy related medical condition will follow the same process followed for ADA workplace accommodations, see https://employees.tamu.edu/employee-relations/ada.html.
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for a covered entity to— (1) not make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee, unless such covered entity can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of such covered entity; (2) require a qualified employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to accept an accommodation other than any reasonable accommodation arrived at through the interactive process referred to in section 102(7); (3) deny employment opportunities to a qualified employee if such denial is based on the need of the covered entity to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the qualified employee; (4) require a qualified employee to take leave, whether paid or unpaid, if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the qualified employee; or (5) take adverse action in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against a qualified employee on account of the employee requesting or using a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of the employee.
For more information related to PWFA, see https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-pregnant-workers-fairness-act or https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hr2617/BILLS-117hr2617enr.pdf.