Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Employees

By: Gregg Zeff
On: December 29, 2023

Gender Discrimination.

Are Accommodations Available At Work While Pregnant?

A common misconception is that accommodations for employees during pregnancy are unavailable. There are protections in place for pregnant workers. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 was an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibited sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. However this law failed to ensure necessary accommodations for pregnant employees. The inadequacy of this law was exposed in the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, Young v. UPS. In the subsequent years, momentum has grown to fill these gaps in the law for those seeking accommodations during their pregnancy. As of June 27, 2023, the ratification of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act now grants pregnant employees the right to receive accommodations.

What Is The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a recent legislation that requires employers with 15 employees or more to provide an employee reasonable accommodations for known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. The sole implementation of the PWFA is to ensure that these accommodations are secured. The PWFA works in conjunction with previous laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC) to outlaw the discrimination of workers based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical issues.

The PWFA is derived from the same principles as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The PFWA works similarly to the ADA in that it is built upon an interactive process between employer and employee to identify a reasonable accommodation. This new law forbids employers to force employees to receive accommodations other than the one which was agreed to by both parties. It also prohibits employers from requiring employees to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided and any retaliation for a request of a reasonable accommodation.

What Are The ADA Guidelines For Pregnancy In 2023?

To fall under the guidelines of the ADA, an individual must have an impairment that significantly limits at least one of their life activities to be rendered disabled through the ADA. Pregnancy is not recognized as such an impairment, however the EEOC does recognize that several pregnancy-related medical conditions could qualify as disabilities such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome. In the event of a pregnancy-related health issue that would be deemed a disability, it would be necessary for the employer to make adjustments in the workplace to reasonably accommodate the employee. The ADA, PDA, and now in conjunction with the new PWFA have established the most comprehensive protection for workers securing reasonable accommodations and the elimination sex discrimination based on pregnancy.

Gender Discrimination.

What States Require Pregnancy Accommodation?

Currently, thirty states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers who are pregnant. While the statutes vary by state, those that do have such laws are:

  • Alaska
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Colorado
  • Minnesota
  • South Carolina
  • Connecticut
  • Nebraska
  • Tennessee
  • Delaware
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • Utah
  • Illinois
  • New Mexico
  • Vermont
  • Kentucky
  • New York
  • Virginia
  • Louisiana
  • North Carolina
  • Washington
  • Maine
  • North Dakota
  • West Virginia

The common theme in all the states’ legistions is that a pregnant employee should not be denied work if a reasonable accommodation can be created without incurring an undue hardship on the employer.

What Is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination is the unfavorable treatment of an employee or prospective employee. According to Title VII, pregnancy discrimination can be based upon past, current and potential pregnancy. The law also identifies pregnancy discrimination to include medical conditions related to pregnancy which includes lactation and birth control. Examples of pregnancy discrimination can include, but are not limited to:

  • Denial of reasonable accommodations
  • Termination of employment
  • Demotions, or being overlooked for promotion
  • Pay cuts
  • Forced to take a leave of absence or layoff
  • Harassment
  • Retaliation or interference of an employee’s rights

While the PFWA and ADA work in conjunction with Title VII to prevent pregnancy discrimination, pregnant workers are also entitled to additional protection via the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act.

Discuss Your Experiences With Pregnancy Discrimination With Zeff Law Firm

Recent legislation has required employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers. If you believe you have been unfairly denied access to such reasonable accommodations. Contact Zeff Law Firm to protect your rights and you and your unborn child’s welfare throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Schedule your consultation today and let the team at Zeff Law Firm assist you in navigating your employment rights throughout your pregnancy.

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